Prayer: Holy God, we stand at the end of one year and on the precipice of a new year. You make all things new. You sustain us through Your renewed enthusiasm and joy. This day may we boldly go forth in Your love knowing that Your Word sustains us and provides us with joy and love and peace and hope in this land and in this world.
Read 2 Corinthians 5: 11- 21
Here we are at the end of 2013 and ready for 2014. During the New Year, people often make New Year’s Resolutions of things they are going to do or not do during the year. The usual topics are exercising more, dieting more, do greater budgeting, not fighting with family or friends.
As a Church do we write New Year Resolutions? In some ways we do. This is the time of year when the Board and Session meet to plan for the next year’s budget. Usually our focus is on money and the budget. Effective Churches create a Mission Plan for the year so they know where to focus their prayers and efforts for the year. Some Churches send their Minister and Session away on a retreat so that they can pray together and ask God where the focus of the Church must be for the coming year.
During the Reformation, Jean Calvin said that we should all have a ministry of reconciliation. Jean Calvin said that the ministry of reconciliation is so important, it should be done at every Presbytery meeting… and every Church meeting. This is a time when we go over to our friends and neighbours in Christ and say, “Oopsie. I am sorry for…… Please forgive me”.
This portion of scripture is Paul’s understanding of the ministry of reconciliation. So, what is the ministry of reconciliation? For Paul it was a time of looking inwardly at our lives and living within God’s love. If we find we are not living within God’s love, then we ask God for forgiveness.
In Christ, we are a new creation – the old is gone and the new has come. All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Jesus Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. And we too are committed to the ministry of reconciliation. We are Christ’s Ambassadors to the world. Before we begin doing the work of Christ, we must ask for forgiveness so that we are doing the work of Christ with clean hearts.
As we stand on the beginning of a new year, we will look inwardly at our hearts and our actions. We ask God for forgiveness so that in 2014 we are ready to do the work God has called us to do in love, joy, peace, and hope.
Prayer: Merciful God, we stand on the beginning of a new year. We stand on the beginning of new love and new plans for Your work. Holy God, You know that we aren’t perfect. Holy God, You know that sometimes we fail and get angry or frustrated with our family or our friends or our Church. Almighty God, we lift up to You today those situations and people that have made us angry or frustrated. Lord hear our prayer. We release our anger and frustrations to You knowing that You forgive us and leave us with Your peace and Your love. We ask for Your forgiveness for those people who we understand to have caused us pain. Lord hear our prayer. We release our pain to You knowing that You forgive us and leave us with a new life of love and mercy. Change our anger into Your love. Change our frustrations into Your peace. Change our pain into Your joy. May we be examples of Your living reconciliation. This we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.