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Thought for the weekend - The significance of a new year

Allen Sleith, Regent Street Presbyterian Church, Newtownards

By Allen Sleith

I was idly flicking through a brochure from a retail store advertising cut price deals when my eye caught one for a range of watches. Even though it was mid-December, long before the Christmas sales, one offer, in particular, was so good that I just couldn't look past it and the next day I went and made the purchase.

My left wrist now sports an attractive quality watch bought at a fraction of the recommended retail price.

Time, of course, is well to the fore just now when we leave an old year behind and enter a new one.

And even if the passing years make us lose a bit of our former idealism about new years' resolutions or the difference that a change in date will bring, there's still surely some residual instinct that a new year has more significance than a new week or a new month.

The watch I purchased came with a booklet of instructions but as I read it I realised that it didn't correspond to the model in question. Thankfully, though, with a bit of persistent trial and error, I was able to suss out how the various buttons on my watch work and all the various timings and settings were synchronised properly.

Excuse the pun, but only time will tell, of course, whether my recent purchase turns out to be a genuine bargain or whether the wrong booklet is a harbinger of an impulsive buy that goes horribly wrong. In Christian understanding, we come to know God through his self-revelation in Jesus Christ. This was communicated through the divine work of the Holy Spirit by inspiring certain people to act as witnesses via their written accounts collated by the early church as trustworthy testimonies which we now refer to as the 'Bible'. The classic Protestant perspective on this is that salvation is 'by Christ alone, by grace alone, by faith alone, and by scripture alone'. It's a summary statement I gladly endorse.

But even though the church claims to have the right booklet, or even the proper interpretation of that booklet, there's still more scope for us working many things out by ourselves than some Christians seem willing to allow for.

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