Another New Year is quickly approaching. Soon, we will close out the year 2016 and usher in a new one of 2017. All of the events that have occurred this past year, both joys and hardships, will become a thing of the past. Things to be treasured, remembered, and potentially avoided again. New goals will be set and new hopes and dreams will be placed on the forefront of our minds in the anticipation of this coming change. A New Year full of promise, full of hope, full of expectation and wonder.
It is with the coming of a brand New Year that I share with you this quote: “Cheers to a New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” This was stated by renowned talk show host Oprah Winfrey. Now, if you’re at all like me in my thinking, you can relate to Oprah’s thinking and processing in regards to humanity’s aspirations for a New Year. How many of us buy into this reality in our day-to-day living and thinking? How many of us see or hear something like this and are held captive to this idea that this New Year or this new day is another opportunity for us to do better, to get it right, like it depends on us? I know I can think that way. I can start counting good days and bad days and dwell on how much I have messed up or regret decisions that I made or did not make. I can dwell on the hope of a new fresh start tomorrow, only to find myself sinking right back into more poor choices, wrong decisions, and sin. That can be a discouraging truth.
The real truth is that I desperately crave and need a new start and a new beginning each day, but it is not a new start that is dictated or decided by me. I need to continuously be drawn back again and again to a Savior who loves me, died for me, and daily renews me by His Spirit. This Savior ushers in more than just a New Year, He gives you and me a new reality. This is a reality that we indeed have ultimate forgiveness for the sin and rebellion that we daily commit against God. This is a reality that we are loved more than we can possible imagine. This is a reality that we are claimed as children of God gifted with a hope for a future eternity with Him. When I grasp and realize that, that makes a difference in how I process a New Year. This new reality gives me hope and encouragement because, while I will never be able to “get it right,” I serve a God who got it right for me on my behalf. It is this gift that allows you and me to live in the freedom that His grace brings to us. May God fill you with a renewed knowledge of His love for you in this coming New Year.
In the Pulitzer Prize-winning Broadway comedy Harvey, the main character, Elwood P. Dowd, has a friend who is a seemingly invisible, six-foot tall white rabbit. The following quote is taken from the part in the play in which Elwood first notices the white rabbit named Harvey:
"I started to walk down the street when I heard a voice saying: 'Good evening, Mr. Dowd.' I turned, and there was this big white rabbit leaning against a lamp-post. Well, I thought nothing of that, because when you've lived in a town as long as I've lived in this one, you get used to the fact that everybody knows your name."
Elwood Dowd completely missed the point and intent behind this visual encounter. He seemingly didn’t get what he was seeing and experiencing. Have you ever missed the true intent or the point behind something? Maybe it was an instruction or directive that was given that was either misinterpreted or just not taken seriously. Missing the point and the true intent behind something can be embarrassing, confusing, lead to more work, and at times can even be dangerous.
Just like many of us miss the true intent and nature of things in our lives so too did the followers of Jesus when He was here on Earth. This week we are looking at Luke 19:28-47 where we see the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.
This was a much-anticipated visit and time in His ministry. It was prophesied hundreds of years before it happened, it meant the near-culmination of His time on Earth, and it ushered in the Passion Week where He would ultimately give His life for the sake of humankind.
The true intent of Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem would be one of peace. Many of Jesus’ followers seemed to have other ideas as they desired that Jesus would bring His kingdom to Earth to subdue their Roman oppressors and establish the glory of Israel once again. They had missed the point. We see this intent missed again immediately following the arrival of Jesus into Jerusalem in the courts of the Temple. The intent of God’s House and specifically the Court of the Gentiles was that those from other nations who were not Jewish could worship and offer sacrifices to God. What Jesus found was that the religious establishment and the everyday happenings of the church brought distraction and division instead of unity in the worship of the Almighty God. They had missed the point.
We too miss the point many times when it comes to the desires, instructions, and will of God. Thankfully, His Word is full of His promises, wisdom, and guidelines for us. It is a help and an aide to those of us who are in desperate need of what Christ has to offer. Thankfully, the intent, purpose, and point behind the activity of God always wins out, even despite our misinterpretations. He desires to teach us, to lead us, to purify us, and to redeem us so that we can truly show others His true nature and His true intent.
Thanks be to God for His patience and love towards us.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette