Happy New Year

Epiphany 1b – Sunday 8th January 2012
Mark 1: 4-11

U2 frontman BonoI remember standing in front of a mirror in my bedroom 25 years ago, felt tip pen in hand, gramophone turned right up, singing with every ounce of my being: “All is quiet on New Year’s Day, a world in white gets under way.”

Bono couldn’t touch me. I was on fire. I was dancing across the stage at Madison Square Gardens. I had them spellbound at the Sportshalle in Cologne. They called for 4 encores at the Hammersmith Apollo. I had them eating out of my hand at the De Montfort Hall (in Leicester – just in case you haven’t visited this world famous concert venue!).

Those were the days…

Why can’t every day be New Year’s Day? I say this for several reasons.

Quiet Road on New Years DayFirstly, the roads were so quiet at 9am. I travelled from Oldham to Hampshire to visit relatives and didn’t encounter one traffic queue, not a single hold up, not even a sign of any congestion. Why can’t every day be New Year’s Day on the roads?

Secondly, it’s a day of new beginnings. Debby and I don’t do New Year’s Eve. We don’t usually stay up until midnight! Consequently, on New Year’s Day, I’m bright eyed and bushy tailed. I feel almost like I did 25 years ago, stood in front of a mirror singing my heart out – full of energy, full of passion, ready to take on the world. And so it is with New Year’s Day. I have a purpose. I have momentum. I’m ready for all the New Year holds in store for me. Why can’t every day be like New Year’s Day?

repentBut, most importantly of all, it’s a day of repentance. Mention the word and usually you can chill an atmosphere by minus 5c. Repentance means to regret, to feel deep sorrow for past sin, to turn your life around, to look God fairly and squarely in the eyes. And why can’t every day be like that? Why can’t every day be New Year’s Day?

The gospel reading for this Sunday has that at its very beginning. Life changing. A new leaf. A fresh chapter. John the Baptist in the wilderness preaching repentance, preaching baptism as a visible sign of change. And then there was Jesus – showing us the way, encouraging us, empowering us.

And all from a point of vulnerability. Of us emptying ourselves of all that rots and poisons our relationship with God. Of reminding ourselves that we are weak and in desperate need of God. Of embracing a forgiven and changed life that is the true gift of God.

All too often New Year’s Day happens just once a year for me, when really it should happen every day, or even several times every day! That I should meet the God of new beginnings, the God of forgiveness, the God of renewal, the God of grace at every turn of my life.

That truly is a Happy New Year.

Happy days

About Neil Chappell

Husband, father, Congregational Minister and football fan all rolled into one convenient package.
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