Happy New Year! My sincere prayer for each and every one of you is that 2018 is a year filled with much joy, much grace, much beauty, much blessing, and much love. May this new year bring you all manner of good things, and may this new year be a time of healing, growth, renewal, refreshment, and rejoicing for you all.

I am personally hoping 2018 brings me renewed health and renewed energy, as 2017 challenged me in both of these areas, but in all times and situations I am thankful that I am able to do all the work that God calls me to do, and that I am able to enjoy richly rewarding, fun, and loving time with family and friends.

New Year’s Day, and the time around that day, often cause us to reflect and hope. We reflect on what has gone before, and we hope for what is yet to come. Hopefully we can look back and see happy memories, happy experiences, and happy times. But even if the look back is tinted by pain, sorrow, struggle, or darkness, we still are looking back at it, which means we have come through it, undoubtedly with much help from our God and from our family and friends. But here we all are, at the start of a new year, and so we all have new hope.

We all have the future waiting ahead of us, a future filled with, we know not what, but a future filled with all manner of possibility, all manner of opportunity, and all manner of excitement. What will the new year bring us? What blessings await us? What opportunities to love and grow and give and share and celebrate await us? What chances to give and receive love and blessing and grace await us? What challenges await us?

None of us know, for sure, of course, but one thing we do know is that, whatever this new year brings us, whatever this new year presents us with, we go forth into this new year secure in the presence and love of our God.

The God who walked with us through all the events of 2017 will also walk with is through whatever 2018 brings. The love of God in Jesus Christ, the mercy of God, the grace of God made ours forever through Jesus, is a constant for us, in all of our days, in all of our situations. God is our strong support, our powerful friend, our immovable rock, in all times and in all the events and moments of our lives.

And so we can enter 2018 with full confidence and full hope, with deep peace and rich comfort, because we enter 2018 as beloved children of God, as eternal brothers and sisters of our Savior Jesus Christ, as the people of God made holy and faithful through the power of the Holy Spirit. Whatever 2018 brings, we journey through this new year with Jesus as our constant companion, our loving friend, and our ever-faithful savior.

So once again, I can say with full confidence, Happy New Year, because every moment we spend with God is a happy moment, because to be with God is to be with the one who loves us eternally, and in that unending love there is great joy and great blessing and great grace.

May 2018 be a wonderful year in the Lord for all of you! See you in church.

Pr. Paul

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