Sunday Message – 1st January – Good News to Praise God For
by Kate Laws
My hope for this service is that we start the new year on a good note – by praising Jesus and remembering some of the good news that we can be thankful for.
Message 1: Made by God
The New Year can make us a bit reflective can’t it – a time to look back over things! I thought we’d start the year with a bit of a quiz, looking back over the lives of some familiar Trinity faces! See if you can recognise these cuties! All babies are cute aren’t they! But they’re all different and as we grow up, we all grow up differently – liking different things, being good at different things. But there is something that unites all of us – we are all made by God. Our first reading told us that God created everything and that Jesus gave life to everything that was created. This is the first piece of good news – that we are all made by God.
Message 2: Children of God
What a year it has been (quiz about what happened on certain dates over the past year). Although we can accept that all people are made by God, we can all realise that the world and people aren’t working the way they are meant to be. It can feel a bit depressing at the moment: riots, banks, recession, Euro-zone crisis, Middle East tensions, there’s a lot going on in this world that is not how it was made to be. But the readings tell us that there is more to life than this earthly creation. The good news is that if we choose to believe in Jesus we become children of God. This is a privilege and a gift, it’s not something we have to earn. And what a privilege – it means we belong. Whatever happens on earth, we can know that we belong to someone bigger than anything on earth. Our Father will always be with us, we can always return to Him.
And what a family we belong too. Families are funny things aren’t they: sometimes wonderful, sometimes loving, but sometimes difficult or even hurtful. But as children of God we become part of God’s family, adopted as God’s child. We have a Father in God who will never ever stop loving us. We become related to Jesus! The story of Christmas becomes part of our family history!
Before we think a little bit more about what it means to be in this family of God, let’s stop and think about that family history, because that is the ultimate Good News. That Jesus came to earth to bring us back into relationship with God is the most incredible truth we could ever discover. We want to start the New Year on the right foot, by remembering our family history – remembering what Jesus has done for us and what He is still doing.
Message 3: Made to be our true-selves
So our good news so far: we are all made by God, if we believe in Jesus and what He did we become children of God. Sounds like a good start to the New Year. So has anyone made any New Year’s Resolutions? Most New Year’s Resolutions seem to be about making ourselves new or better in some way, e.g. to improve our fitness, to lose weight. It’s the same with Christmas films – they’re always about a transformation of some kind.
A while ago a friend made what I think is the best resolution ever: “to be the best that I can be”. Sums it all up doesn’t it! I’ve been thinking about this resolution recently, how exactly do you become ‘the best you can be’? As we heard earlier, the bible tells us that we can become children of God. The Message version of the John passage that we read, says that by becoming children of God, we become our “true-selves”. To live the life that we were created to live – that is how we will be the best that we can be.
Who we are isn’t defined by a photo (as we saw with the baby photos earlier), or what we look like now (as we saw in our hand prayers) or by what we do. Who we are truly is far deeper than that – we are created beings adopted into the family of the one High God, creator of the Universe and Almighty Saviour. It’s only when we fully appreciate our true identity that we will fully appreciate the good news.
As we discover our true identity, our true family and the good news of our family history, our lives will change – we’ll grow to be more like our relatives. It’s funny how this happens isn’t it – Hands up anyone who has heard themselves say something their mum or dad (or worse Grandparent) used to say! In the family of God, we can grow to be more like Jesus, more like the person we were meant to be.
One of the ways we do this is by spending time with our family. Think about someone you know really well (your husband, wife, best friend, brother, sister, parent) – could you order for them at a cafe? Could you choose which film they would like to watch from a choice at the cinema? I’m pretty sure I could go to the counter and order for my friends in a cafe without their instruction! That’s because we’ve spent A LOT of time in cafes together! It’s quite obvious that we get to know people by spending time with them, finding out about them, talking with them. I think it’s the same with our family of God. John tells us that it is Jesus who makes the Father known, so by getting to know Jesus we will get to know the Father.
What an amazing opportunity this is – to spend time talking to Jesus, listening to Jesus, reading about Jesus, basically sharing our lives with Jesus. Isn’t that good news – that we get to share our lives with the Saviour of the world, with the creator of the Universe and by doing this we will learn to live more and more like him, living as our true-selves, as the people we were created to be.
Ephesians tells us that we have an amazing inheritance as children of God and we already have a down-payment on this now, the Holy Spirit within us, the presence of God with us each moment, helping us to learn more of God, to learn to live as our true-selves as the people we were created to be. And as we do this we can’t help but praise God as Ephesians said everything is done for the praise of God’s glory – how can we not praise God when we have all of this good news
We’re going to sing this now – that as we learn more about our family and spend more time with God and Jesus we can’t help but offer our whole lives as an offering to Him.