January 3, 2016
Stetson Memorial UMC
First Sunday of 2016
New Year/New Things
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 MSG
Isaiah 43:18-19 MSG
“Brand Spanking New…!”
Prayer for the Spirit’s leading…
Epiphany→ noun, plural epiphanies.
- (initial capital letter) a Christian festival, observed on January 6, commemorating the manifestation of Christ to the gentiles in the persons of the Magi; Twelfth-day.
- an appearance or manifestation, especially of a deity.
- a sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
- a literary work or section of a work presenting, usually symbolically, such a moment of revelation and insight.
Good morning to all of you and Happy New Year. I can’t believe that we are at a new year already. Have you all made your New Year’s resolution yet? I have made a couple but we’ll see how that goes… I pray this New Year brings you blessings, hope and joy and that you have a renewed vision of Jesus and who He is in your lives.
In the Christian calendar the first Sunday of the year is known as “Epiphany Sunday”. “Epiphany” is a very interesting word to me…so much so that I decided to look up the definition which I just read. This definition kind of reminds me of those old V8 commercials… you know what I’m talking about, the ones that the person has just discovered that what they were drinking had no real nutritional value and they could have had a V8 instead that would have given them nutritional value. That sudden realization that there was something more out there than what you are living with or doing.
I think we all have epiphanies in some shape or form. We are looking for our car keys and then all of the sudden a thought comes to mind of where they are. We may be reading scripture and all of the sudden we have that “ah ha” moment and it all makes perfect sense. We may see or be in a situation and all of the sudden it is like “light dawning on the horizon” we understand why it is all happening…we see it through the eyes of God instead of our own eyes.
The bible is full of epiphanies…people who all of the sudden understood something about God and His promises. Many men and women turned their lives around because of their encounter with Yahweh. I think my favorite one is found in Revelations…although I think that the whole book of Revelation is one big epiphany in itself… It is found in chapter 21 verses 1-8. It reads:
Revelation 21:1-8New International Version (NIV)
A New Heaven and a New Earth
21 Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,”[a] for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’[b] or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children. 8 But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—they will be consigned to the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
God is creating…recreating something new…something that He intended from the beginning and He will dwell with His people. There is no more crying…or death…or anything that is against God…He will create everything brand spanking new. As we grasp this fact…this promise…what an epiphany we have as we realize who our God is and whom belongs to Him…you and I…we belong to Him who sits on the throne. Think about that for a moment. The Creator of all that we see…all that is good…is recreating…not only is He recreating the world in which we live but He is recreating us each day as we draw closer to Him.
So pastor Ruth…when can we expect this new world order? Good question. Well remember that reading from Ecclesiastes I read a little while ago? It will happen in God’s time. But we have that promise that it will happen. As children of God, I believe that nothing happens that isn’t Father filtered…nothing happens that God is not aware of…nothing happens for no reason. As we look around us the world doesn’t look all that appealing. There is so much evil around us that we can hardly look at it. We may be thinking “how can God let this happen? Where is God in this?” There a right time for everything on the earth… God is working out His plan. Each day He is creating and recreating. It’s His nature. As we look at the world with the eyes of God, we can see that promise beginning to take shape. But we must believe.
Maybe as we begin seeing through God’s eyes we can begin to see our part in the plan. Perhaps if we begin within ourselves we can begin a chain reaction that will affect the world around us and beyond. Isaiah 43:18-19 tells us:
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
My prayer for us as individuals and as a church is that we all will have that epiphany that will bring us ever closer to our Lord Jesus Christ this year…That we will have a revelation of who Christ is to us and who we are to Him…That we will embark on new journeys that will lead us to a new and exciting place where we will encounter our Redeemer in new ways.
Happy New Year…happy new you…happy new world…Amen