Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” 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’ 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.
Happy New Year! Today is the first day of 2023. It is also the first Sunday of the new year. Like Christmas, I like that we can celebrate another special day together in worship.
I love welcoming the new year. New year signifies a new beginning; a new start. Like our life resets with a clean slate. It is time to look forward to what lies ahead of us. It is time to envision our life. It is time to set goals and make resolutions. It’s exciting!
Welcoming the new year is very much about our attitude. How we head into the new year is more important than simply wishing for a different environment and circumstance.
Some of us might not be a big fan of the new year. We don’t want to get a year older. We aren’t looking forward to heading back to school. We don’t want the winter break to end. We may feel more anxious and nervous than excited.
Some of us might be feeling down and burdened by what we experienced last year. We may have experienced disappointments. We may have messed up, big or small. We may feel weighed down by a sense of shame and guilt, not being able to move on fully. All these things can affect the way we face the new year.
We don’t have to let ourselves be chained to the past. We can break free from those chains. We can move forward in freedom and confidence. We can come out of darkness and into the light. We can do that because we believe in God who makes everything new.
God gave John a beautiful vision, which we read today. John vividly saw a new heaven and a new earth. He saw the old things passing away. He saw God making everything new. Let’s hear those words again.
‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the OLD order of things has passed away.”Revelation 21:4
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.”Revelation 21:5
When God comes into our life, newness comes. Nothing stays the way it was before. Everything becomes new. We reflected that on Christmas. When Christ came into the world, a whole new era began. When Jesus encountered people, their lives were transformed. When the Spirit comes into our hearts, we ourselves change. When Christ returns, the whole world will be redeemed.
God has brought the new year into our lives. New year means new opportunity. God has forgiven you of your sins. God has wiped away your tears. God has set you free from your past. God wants you to keep going and live your life to the fullest. God is making EVERYTHING new.
Don’t be afraid to dream. Don’t let the fear of failure paralyze you from doing something new, original, and creative.
I realized how debilitated we can be by this fear. I saw that about myself this week. With all that we do, that’s what we think about. Will I succeed or will I fail? With our insecurities, we often see failure as being more likely. The experience of our past failures reminds us even more why we shouldn’t try.
Dare to look through the fear of failure that looms over you. Stare right through what clouds your mind and your thoughts. You will see God who holds you up in his hands even when you fall. God whose love is greater than your guilt and shame. You will meet God who turns even your mistakes and failures into something beautiful. God spoke to John in this way—
It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.Revelation 21:6a
Alpha is the first letter of Greek alphabet. Omega is the last letter. God is the Beginning and the End. You have nothing to worry about. You are safe in God’s hands. David confessed in his psalm—
Where can I go from your Spirit?Psalm 139:7-10
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.
Expect God to do wonderful things this year. Let the things of yesterday be the things of yesterday. Envision new possibilities for your life. Entrust those dreams to God. God will open doors for you. God will bring a new heaven and a new earth into your life.
May 2023 be a blessed year for all of you. May you be filled with passion, joy and excitement. May you know God more deeply as you walk with him. Happy New Year!