Happy New Year!
They’re three words that we’re likely to hear and say many times in the coming week. Of course we want to wish people well for the coming year, but they are words that can feel so trite in the face of real life. There are all kinds of reasons to be hopeful this year, but for every ray of sunshine there seems to be a decent storm cloud threatening on the horizon. I know the cliché says that every one of those clouds has a silver lining, but I reckon most people are coming to the start of 2023 looking for a real and lasting hope that runs beyond a glib “Happy New Year!”
Now, it probably comes as no surprise that I’m convinced that the gospel gives us the surest reasons for hope. Not in a ‘wishful thinking’ kind of hope in the face of inevitable hardship, and not in a ‘blind faith’ hope in the face of rational thought. But real hope that’s grounded in the historical person of Jesus and all he has done. Hope that isn’t just wishing for a better future, it is looking to the one who has secured the future and invites us to walk into it with him.
So, as we spend the five Sundays in January reflecting on hope, this is a great chance to invite people to join us to hear more about this. In addition to the warm welcome we always offer anyone who wants to hear about Jesus, our services in January will be particularly accessible to newcomers. But alongside that, this month is also about us growing in confidence that our hope in Christ tangibly impacts a whole variety of life’s challenges. At times we can feel like we don’t really have anything useful to offer in the discussions going on around us. It can feel like the things our friends are talking about are on a totally different page to the message of the gospel and it’s hard to know how to connect the two. So over the next five Sundays we’ve got plenty of opportunity to join the dots:
• This week, as everyone’s thinking about their aspirations for the new year, Jesus offers us what everyone’s actually chasing after: real rest.
• Next week we reflect on how the message of the gospel alone gives us the resources to approach conflict in relationships – being able to offer genuine forgiveness to others as those who have been forgiven by God.
• On the 15th we’ll consider the incredible hope for our bodies that is bound up in the news that the Son of God not only took on human flesh in his birth, but also held onto it when he rose and ascended to his father’s side. Our bodies are one of the things that our society is most confused about – and the gospel speaks into that conversation with remarkable clarity and hope.
• Speaking of bodies – their fragility and mortality remains the cause of anxiety and fear for so many people. So, the offer of eternal life is life changing. On the 22nd we’ll be reminded that this isn’t just pie in the sky when you die, but life changing hope for the here and now.
• And with all the growing evidence of climate change and the ongoing debate around how to respond to it, many people assume that Jesus is of little relevance to the discussion. And yet we’ll be encouraged on the 29th to see the deep hope that Jesus gives for our planet – much more than just a fall-back position for when we’ve totally broken it!
There’s no better way to kick off 2023 than reflecting on the hope that Jesus gives. It’s not just wishing a happy new year, but knowing the sure hope we have for this year and all eternity.
Trinity Church Brighton
0401 387 908
PS – church is back at the usual time of 10:00am this Sunday, though you’re encouraged to come at 9am for our usual prayer time. It’d be great to have a bunch of people praying together for the year ahead – and there’s then plenty of time to catch up over a coffee before church too.
PPS – kids are remaining in church throughout the gathering this week. We’ll have activity packs for them and the sermon will be in two shorter talks with practical engagement for all ages. Please feel free to bring anything else you think will help your kids enjoy church such as a quiet toy to play with or some snacks to nibble on. A toilet stop at 9:55 might be a good idea too! Trinity Kids will be back underway in its usual format on January 8.