Happy New Year!
The experience of many of us indicates that this January 1st is one of many New Years with significant anniversaries and events. There will be Chinese New Year, significant birthdays, new life in the birth of a baby, and the passing in death of others.
We have tried to follow those in the Christian faith by distinguishing our beginning and our New Year from the secular cacophony around us at Christmas by saying that the new year really begins on the first Sunday of Advent, the anticipation of the birth of Jesus, and the mark of a new beginning for Christians. The best definition I heard of new year (yes, there are different definitions of new year) was a minister named Archie Pell who got up in an evening service near the end of summer and stated this very obvious fact; “as any teenager knows, New Year’s begins on the Tuesday after Labour Day when school starts.” I kind of like his definition, but nonetheless, choosing a different time to start fresh is a metaphor for the grace of God who allows us, despite our self-induced traumas and tragedies, to start over again and again and again in His Son’s name, grace, and in the Lord’s willingness, like the prodigal, to continuously welcome us back.
This year has included, but is not limited to, so many exciting new things:
- Celebrating over 7500 residential and day campers this summer
- Renewal programme for healthy churches with Sam Breakey
- Affirmed active discussion between delegates when we gathered at Assembly
- Legacy for Ministry, led by Bob Webber
- Tenancy / debt discussions with camps
- Found and purchased an office in Calgary
- Founding of Musqueam Church in Vancouver
- Excellent Assembly
- Election of a new Board, including a new Chair in Laura Nelson
- Increased Leadership Forums
Despite, or maybe in spite of, all of these things, which are only a snapshot of part of what we do together, as a family of churches serving each other in Christ’s name, I am regularly reset, reconfigured, reframed and reminded that it is the Lord that “set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure,” (Psalms 40:2) not myself, and as I am reminded of that, I am drawn to these following verses.
Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory,
for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness.
Not for our sake, God, no, not for our sake,
but for your name’s sake, show your glory.
Do it on account of your merciful love,
do it on account of your faithful ways.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
If God doesn’t build the house,
the builders only build shacks.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you.
Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.