With the possible exception of April 15, January 2nd might be the most dreaded day of the year.  “Happy New Year,” the preacher says with tongue firmly planted in cheek.  So, how was it?

You see, since the fourth Thursday of November, Thanksgiving Day, until January 1st, everyone in America parties. We stuff ourselves with food—turkey and dressing, cakes, candies, pumpkin pie, chicken wings for bowl games.  January 1st is a huge day with food, parties, football.  And what do we get for all that?  January 2nd.

Overweight, exhausted, in debt, and with the house in a mess, we are supposed to be “all in” for the New Year. But after all the football games, we realize it is time to get on a budget and get on a diet, and put up all those Christmas decorations.  (How is it that all those Christmas decorations looked so great in December, look so tacky today?)

And whose idea was it to put all the good holiday stuff so early in winter?  Think about it.  There is nothing to look forward to but the bleakness and cold of winter (I hate winter, can you tell?) until March Madness and The Masters.

The month of January takes its name from the Roman god Janus—a two-faced being with both faces looking in opposite directions. Janus/January is a hinge time—one in which we can look back and look ahead.

January 2nd and the days that follow, should not be a time when all we do is figure out how we are going to lose weight and pay the bills, with the only thing to look forward to is flowers in the spring. This week is also a vantage point.

Yes, Janus looks back, but she also looks forward, as should we. January can’t be just the end of the party, but a hope month as we look forward to what God has for us. So, don’t use this week to make a list of last years’ disappointments. Use it, as a learning experience and redemption.

Paul says in Ephesians 1 that we have been redeemed and forgiven.  When Paul says that we have been redeemed, he is saying that the slate has been wiped clean (2017 is over. Forget it).  The original setting for the word redemption was “the setting free of a slave.”  Someone bought the slave and set him free, and he had been redeemed.  Paul points to the cross for our redemption.  No matter how lousy you were as a person in 2017, or how bad the year was, it’s a new day.  Christ is the God of the second chance. Because of Christ’s death for us on the cross, we have forgiveness from God, and with his help, we can turn our lives around.

When I was a kid I remember going with mom to the S&H Green Stamp Redemption Center.  You’ve got to have some years on you to remember that.  Back in the day, when you went to the grocery store you were given green stamps—the more groceries you bought, the more green stamps you got.  You would then put the green stamps in a book and then look through the green stamp catalogue.  When you had enough green stamps, you could “redeem” it at the S&H Redemption Center, and get a new toaster or mug.  Hot diggity dog, those were the days.

Make the church your redemption center for 2018. Turn to Christ for a second chance.  With his help things can be good again.
Meanwhile, I’m counting down the days till I can see the Augusta National Azaleas.

~Pastor Steve

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