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Let’s see this new year as a time of preparation for how God wants us to live

Rev Steve Stockman


Hope: the dawn of a new day in Belfast

Hope: the dawn of a new day in Belfast

Hope: the dawn of a new day in Belfast

Just over a wee into a new year and not much has changed. If anything, we are further back into the old. We are back into lockdown. Oh, there was a stroke at midnight nine days ago, but 2021's "new" is going to take much more than one or 12 gongs from Big Ben.

We have every reason to hope in a "new" 2021, but not yet. It is going to take time to roll out the vaccine.

It is going to take time before the life of 2020 splits off into the whole "new" thing of 2021.

It has had me thinking about the apostle Paul and his new life when he converted to Jesus. There he was, persecuting the Church. He was anti-Christ, if you like.

Suddenly, in one instant on the road to Damascus, he was blinding by a light. The light of Christ.

Paul's life was turned around in one dramatic moment. However, the "new" didn't come for some time.

He had to go and wait in a house in Damascus until God sent Ananias to give him back his sight. He then spent three years in the desert, being prepared by the Holy Spirit.

It was only then that the new Paul became the greatest missionary of Jesus' Church.

I cannot help but see us in a potent place just before the real "new" year dawns.

It is a place of reflection, leaving the past behind, making big choices and creating a better future.

One of the many lessons we have learned from coronavirus is that timelines are difficult to set in stone.

Yet, a few months from now, the vaccine will start to kick in and we will start to peer out again.

Again, that will not be on a stroke of a clock. It will be gradual. Then, somewhere further through the year, we will be free from this restricted life.

In these few months still restricted, we need to be reflective.

We need to be asking if there were lessons to learn during this crazy year.

What of the old normal do we want to eradicate from our lives when the "new" opens up?

We need to be resolving to live in better ways. To make better choices. To love our neighbour more.

To be prepared to deny ourselves, as Jesus asked us to do, and as we have been forced to do in coronavirus times.

The new year is here already, but the "new" of 2021 is yet to break in.

Let us see it as a time of preparation for how God might want us to live in, and shape, the future.

Rev Steve Stockman is minister of Fitzroy Presbyterian Church, Belfast

Apt Bible readings

Some scripture suggestions for the week ahead:

Monday: Acts 9:1-10

Tuesday: Acts 9:11-19

Wednesday: Gal 1:13-18

Thursday: Rom 12:1-2

Friday: Rom 12:9-13

Belfast Telegraph