Happy New Year!
It is wonderful to have the first day of the new year, worshipping God. What better way is there than starting the first day, praising God and thanking God?
God has been good to us in 2022. We thank God for that. We have come here with a thankful heart. As God has been good to us in 2022, he will also be good to us in 2023. For those who love God, all things work out for good.
As I look back last few years, I realize that we went through a lot. I feel like a big storm passed by. There were times when I felt very unsure about the future, not only the future of our world, but also the future of the church in general. 1.1 million Americans lost their lives because of Covid. Closing down the church? I could never imagine that and I have never experienced that. But we were very close to that. Do you remember? There was a time when only five people were allowed in the sanctuary. We were lucky to have something called zoom. But after a while, I felt that zoom service would not really give us the worship experience. I was concerned.
I cannot say it is over but now the storm is slowly passing by. But I see its aftermath. It left us in ruins. It caused a lot of damages. Not just to our physical body but to our mind and our spirit.
People are deeply affected. I see a lot of strange behaviours. For example, there have been many incidents at the subway. A woman was deliberately targeted and set on fire. An 85 year old woman was punched in the face and knocked out. A woman was pushed into the coming train. People who were waiting for the bus at the platform, were stabbed and one person died. We have never seen this.
Our relationships also have changed. It is not the same anymore. Many relationships have fallen apart. It damaged the sense of community.
2023 is the year we have to repair the ruins that the storm has brought. We need to repair our mind. We need to repair our body. We need to repair our relationships. We need to repair our community. We need to repair our faith.
The First Button
To repair anything, we need to go back to the basic. Going back to the very basic is the wisest thing to do. When your life becomes complicated, difficult to handle, when things don’t work out as well as you wish, when everything you do turns out to be not so good, go back to the basic. Start from the basic.
There is a Korean saying. Button up the first button in a right place. Go back to the first button. Go back to the basic. When the basic is set right, everything else will find its place.
Our basic is Christ. Our basic is our relationship with Christ. We have to ask ourselves. What is my relationship with Christ like? Where is God in my life?
How well do you know Christ? How important is Christ in your life?
Who is Christ to you?
To St. Paul, Christ was everything. He said to live is Christ.
For to me, living is Christ,… (Philippians 1:21)
To him, the most important thing is to know Christ and to have Christ.
Yet whatever gains I had, these I have come to regard as loss because of Christ. More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him,… (Philippians 3:7-9)
Because of Christ, everything changed for him. His thinking changed. His perspectives changed. His relationship with God changed. His whole life changed.
In Christ, he found the treasures of life. Wasn’t that what Jesus said about the kingdom of God?
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which someone found and hid; then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44)
He found the treasure hidden in Christ. He found the kingdom of God.
That was what he said in today’s Scripture.
…in whom (Christ) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:3)
He believed that in Christ, true wisdom of life is hidden. I believe that too. The deeper we know Christ, the more profound wisdom will be revealed to us. The deeper joy we will be able to experience.
This year’s theme is “Knowing Christ.” It is going back to the basic. We are going to reflect on Christ. As we go through this journey, Christ will reveal the treasures of wisdom hidden in him. That wisdom is what we need to live a good life.
2023 will be an exciting year.
You will discover God’s mystery as we reflect on Christ together.
St. Paul said Christ was God’s mystery.
…so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself. (Colossians 2:2)
Yes, Christ is God’s mystery. In Christ, the secret of life is hidden. In Christ, the secret of happiness is hidden. In Christ, the secret of God is hidden.
Danish philosopher and theologian, Soren Kierkegaard said,
Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.
How true that is!
And someone also said,
Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be lived.
Yes, life is mystery to be lived. We have to experience the mystery of life. This year’s journey will be a journey of unveiling the mystery hidden in Christ.
That’s why it is exciting to face the new year. God’s mystery will be revealed to you.
We cannot explain everything about life. We don’t need to. We don’t need to figure out our life to live a good life. Take the mystery of life as it is and live it. You have problems? God will show you the way out. Don’t worry about your problems. Experience the mystery of how your problems are taken care of. Why don’t you pray? Prayer is a key to open the mystery of life. Revive the prayer life. It is wonderful to pray.
St. Paul said.
Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Experience the wonders of life and see how your life unravels itself. Your dreams and visions will come true because of Christ. Christ will empower you so that you can arise from the troubles you face.
With Christ, your life will change. With Christ, you will change. With Christ, slowly you will become free from those that bind you. No more fear. No more bondage. You will be free in Christ.
Knowing Christ is not cerebral exercise. Knowing Christ is to experience his power. Knowing Christ is to become like him. When you know Christ, your life will be different. Full of joy, full of dreams, full of surprises, and full of life. That’s what life is. You will have life back with Christ.