Saturday Sermon: What's so new about 2014?
Another new year is upon us. For many, New Year's Day is a day of optimism. A new year means new hopes, new opportunities - a fresh start.
But what begins with optimism often turns to disappointment. Our goal to get healthy ends after one day of exercise and two days of eating carrots.
Quitting smoking didn't work either. Family and marriage problems we hoped would improve end up staying the same or getting worse. Work is still work, and school is still school.
Our world is constantly changing. Telephones become cellphones that become iPhones that become watch phones. Governments rise and fall. Presidents come and go. Brad Pitt turns 50. And yet as wise old King Solomon once wrote, "There is nothing new under the sun," Ecclesiastes 1:9.
What he meant is things don't really change that much here on Earth. Human nature doesn't change. The names and places of the wars change, but the selfishness and greed that spark them do not. Throughout human history, the rich have exploited the poor, children have rebelled against parents and marriages have crumbled.
Though 2014 may seem new and different, not much will change. Politicians will still let us down. Work will still be difficult and stressful. Society will still praise sin and call Christians intolerant. People you know and love will still get sick and die. There is nothing new under the sun.
Thankfully, our God, who dwells beyond the sun, promises us something new. The Prophet Jeremiah tells us, "Because of the Lord's great love, we are not consumed. For his compassions never fail. They are new every morning," Lamentations 3:22,23.
God's mercies are new every morning. Every day, he forgives us anew for the same old dumb sins we continually do day after day. Every day, he provides us with new and special blessings we don't deserve. Even as we struggle with the same old problems, God gives us new hope and new strength to face them through his word.
Even more importantly, because of Jesus, he promises us a home in heaven where everything will always be new (Revelation 21:5).
The new year 2014 may bring for you wonderful new opportunities and blessings, but it will also be more of the same old problems and struggles. Even so, know that God's mercies for you are new every morning. He promises to forgive you every day. Even as you stand surrounded by problems, if you open your eyes, each day you will see new blessings from God.
May God bless you richly in this new year as you deal with the same old sin of this world and as you see God's wonderful mercies, which are new every morning.
Andrew Schroer is the pastor of Redeemer Lutheran Church in Edna.