Every new year some of us make a list of New Year resolutions that we rarely keep. About 9 days ago some of us gathered with our friends and families and said a prayer hoping 2022 will be a better year.
Every New Year we look forward to a new beginning, hoping things will be different in the New Year.
So what are your New Year resolutions? Life is all about new beginning and even though new beginning can come with some apprehension, doubts and anxiety. However new beginning come with hope. New beginning helps us to grow and sometimes refresh and renews us.
In today’s reading people who came to John the Baptist to be baptized were filled with expectations of the coming of a Messiah, An Agent of God, who would restore Israel and the triumph of God’s power and authority.
The people at the time were in pain. They have been rules and subjected to foreign empire for generations. They have gone through wars, famine, diseases and disorganization. They were not just waiting for a Messiah, but they were longing for the Messiah. So it is easy to understand why they were running to John and asking are you him? Are you the Messiah, tell us?
These folks are looking for Messiah who will save them, but they have no sense of saving Grace that Jesus will bring them. They are ready to feel renewed. Ready for someone to come along and give them something to hope in. they are ready for a new beginning.
John the Baptist informed the people coming to him that he is not the Messiah. He told them that I baptized you with water, but one mightier than I is coming whose sandal strap I am not worthy to untie, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus came down to be baptized with the people by John the Baptist. As soon as Jesus was baptized by John the Spirit of the Lord in form of a dove descended upon him and at the same time they hear the voice of God say “You are My Beloved son, in You I am well pleased”.
Here God identified Jesus as His only son. Jesus has come to bring peace on earth.
No one has yet to show any documentation that Our Lord Jesus Christ attended a seminary school or he was ordained before he started his ministry. Therefore he was a layperson just like us. We are all baptized and sealed with the Holy Spirit in baptism, so we are all ministers.
The kind of power and authority the people are expecting from a messiah is quite different from what Jesus brought them.
Rather the power and authority Jesus demonstrated in response to his baptism reception of the Holy Spirit was that of service and servant leadership. The power showed by Jesus was one of Grace combined with the power of love.
Therefore, how do we plan to go into the world this New Year and minister the word of God?
Does your New Year resolution include serving God in a servanthood fashion? Does it include making a difference in someone’s life this year? Does it include showing kindness and compassion towards other people?
Is supporting social justice part of your New Year resolution?
Being a Christian is about serving others and spreading the peace and love of God in our communities.
Not long ago, I heard on the news that LGBTQ community in Dallas was targeted and folks just want to make them feel unsafe for no apparent reason. A guy was killed in Arlington last year just because he belonged to this community. Why?
What kind of hate must someone have in their mind to want to hurt another person just because they do not look them or share their belief?
We cannot say we love our country and be divided or dislike one another. We cannot say we love our community if we choose not to demonstrate kindness, compassion and love for one another.
We might say our children do not know anything at this time, but technology has changed everything (google). If you do not tell them the truth, they will figure it out.
Our reading from Isaiah today, “thus says the Lord, who created you for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name, you are Mine”.
Basically the Lord is telling us he got our back.
We are God’s beloved, it does not mean we are not going to go through turbulence in life, but God promised us the gift of peace in our heart. Our God is ever present with us even when we are stranded on the busy highway of life.
“Thus says the Lord, Fear not, for I am with you”.
What are your worries at the moment?
Maybe pain and fear of separating from those we love; Distraught over the grave diagnosis/prognosis of a loved one; Physical and emotional pain from life changing surgery; Loneliness; May be still grieving the death of a loved one.
It is easy to think that God has abandoned us. But I am here to tell you this morning, that God has got your back.
This morning we heard from Isaiah.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.
Whenever you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned. Nor shall this flame scorch you.
Everyone who is called by my name whom I have created for my glory, I have formed him, yes I have made him.
Our lord is great and beautiful and what a blessing He gave us through the promise of baptism.
God is telling us this morning I got your back. God said this to each one of us on a daily basis. We just need to listen to his gentle call to us. Every day is a new day to be touched by the beauty of God.
It is lovely and beautiful to serve the Lord, because we do not need to be perfect. We are all born in the image of God and loved by God.
I encourage all of us this morning to see God in everyplace. I encourage us to see the face of Jesus Christ in everyone we meet this year.
We are all baptized into the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are all born in the image of God and loved by God.
Look around today; do you see Jesus Christ in the face of the person sitting beside you or around you?
Are you willing to show kindness and compassion to others this year? Are you willing to go out every day and see Jesus in the face of very person that we have contact with.
It is through the Grace of God and love of God that we are alive today , so we the ability and responsibility as Christians to be a face of Christ to people in our community and to make a difference and to bring peace to our community. AMEN