From The Pastor's Desk
Well 2021 has finally arrived! We have heard a great deal about how good it will be to be done with 2020 with all of its challenges. And indeed, it may well be psychologically helpful to bid farewell to 2020 as a way of closing a chapter that has been difficult.
However, we all know that flipping the page on the calendar or even replacing it with a new calendar does not in itself change anything! For example, we are still dealing with covid 19 and escalating infection rates. We are still facing the challenges of various levels of lockdown whether they are related to economic hardship, mental health issues, family stresses, educational disruption, or whatever. Making our world a better place is not going to happen by dropping a ball in Time Square and singing “Auld Lang Syne.” What can bring about the changes that we need and long for?
Could it be that if we could only change the external situation all would be well? Will mass vaccination and the elimination of covid 19 bring about the utopia we wish for? Alas no! Prior to the outbreak of covid 19, our world was not a perfect place. Watching “the year in review” on the local news made me aware of the tensions and challenges that we faced prior to the pandemic even here in our own region. Protests over perceived injustices, strikes by workers, economic imbalances and so much more contributed to unhappiness and hardship for people. It is not fixing the externals that will bring about our desire for a satisfying life. We will have to look elsewhere, for the issue is more than superficial.
In fact what will keep us from ever knowing the harmony that our hearts long for is a problem that is deeply embedded in each of us, namely self centeredness. Each of us wants to be at the center of the world and that brings chaos. The Bible calls this sin. Alas, our society seems to think that we should, in fact, give everyone what they want and then all will be well. What a fool's hope that is!
May I suggest that the need that we face is for each of us to have our hearts changed. This is not a simple matter of tweaking an attitude or changing an action through some kind of self improvement program! What is needed is a full scale heart transplant. That is the way the Bible puts it: “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. . . . you will be my people and I will be your God” (Ez 36:26-28).
It is noteworthy that Christmas comes a week before New Years in our calendars. Might I suggest that Christmas is the key to realizing our hopes of “better” for this new year. Jesus, the one whose coming we celebrate at Christmas time, came, the angel declared, “to be the savior (Lk 2:11). He is our hope for the better world. By his life, death and resurrection, he would have the power to truly change each of us from the inside out. Because of that coming, “To all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (Jn 1:12), that is, those who share the character of God. When we, by faith in Jesus Christ, become part of God's kingdom, we can begin to experience the world that we truly long for, that world where God reigns.
All of us at Kingston East End Community Church want to wish you, not just a covid free new year, but a truly blessed year of knowing God and his great love!