And Now We Welcome the New Year and a New Life

By: ShirleyL

Speaker: Rev. Joe Pang
Scriptures: Luke 1:76-80

Today is the last Sunday of 2018. This year, we have journeyed through 12 monthly themes (footnote 1), under which characteristics of discipleship did you learn a lesson? We have to know that what makes us the way we are today is based on the decisions we made yesterday. As we approach the new year, it is a good time to reflect on the past year: what needs letting go? what needs perseverance? what needs more work?

I have chosen today’s passage to prepare ourselves for the new year and the new life ahead. Luke 1:76 tells us to “prepare his ways”: this is Jesus’s way. The first thing we need to prepare is a yearning for more Jesus in our lives. If your answer is no, then there is no need to proceed. Out of a score of ten, how much Jesus did you have in 2018? When you have a score, ask yourself how could you have more Jesus in 2019. It is perfectly ok to have low score, the key is whether you are ready to admit to it. In fact, admitting to the actual condition of your relationship with Jesus is a crucial spiritual step, and a sign of spirituality.

v77 talks of salvation. At BMCC, salvation means transformation. Transformation takes time. Sometimes, actually most times, we walk too fast, we don’t have time to sit down and appreciate the path we have journeyed and the things we have done, let alone let these experience transform us. Jesus wants to stay there at each experience with us, immerse in it with us. Let us all walk slower.

v78 tells us that the tender mercy of God will break upon us like the dawn, like rays of sunlight breaking through the dark night. We are most sensitive to light when it is dark. Sometimes when we are in depressed moods, there seems to be no light. But if you open the door and let Jesus in, he will walk with you, and by walking with him, you will see light.

v80 tells us the child grew and became strong in spirit. How can we let our inner child grow? I recommend you to read the book “Putting Away Childish Things” by David A. Seamands. The author has strong spiritual and psychology background and this book is very insightful. While our physical bodies grow every day as we eat, exercise and breathe, but we seldom take care of our inner child, and s/he does not grow auto-pilot, s/he also needs nourishment, exercise and tending to. The same is for our spiritual health, we need to constantly exercise and look after our spiritual bodies.

The child was in wilderness — it represents pain and sacrifice, it is not an easy place, it is challenging. But it is also where people went to when Christianity became a state-religion under Constantine’s rule. The wilderness, through pain and sacrifices, we train our spirituality.

I encourage you to join us next year on a journey of spiritual and biblical deepening as we embark on a new journey of exploration of the Bible and Spiritual Practices.

footnote 1: the twelve monthly themes are: Jan 信心與愛心 Faith & Love; Feb 感恩與付出 Gratitude & Giving; Mar 勇敢與好奇 Courage & Curiosity; Apr 接受與耐心 Acceptance & Patience; May 節制與紀律 Self-control & Discipline; Jun 憐恤與溫柔 Compassion & Gentleness; Jul 放下與建立 Letting Go & Building Up; Aug 喜樂與熱情 Joy & Passion; Sep 忠心與委身 Loyalty & Dedication; Oct 悔改與轉化 Repentance & Transformation; Nov 順服與謙虛 Obedience & Humility; Dec 陪伴與同行 Companionship