As a child at school I used to love getting a new exercise book. With every new school year came a new set of books and a new opportunity—the possibly of a flawless book without any mistakes! I am by nature an optimist. It is said that a pessimist can never be disappointed but whether expected or not, every one of us is inevitably and regularly brought face to face with the reality of imperfection, the disappointment of falling short, the shame of missing the mark. However hard we try, it is a sad certainty that we cannot keep our exercise books free of mistakes, our relationships free of selfishness, or our world free of suffering. New Year’s Resolutions, however sincere, are simply not enough. There are forces at work stronger than our good intentions.
But the Christian message is one of hope and good news, of good overcoming evil, and of the perfect vanquishing imperfection. It is a message of fresh starts, forgiveness for past failure, and new beginnings. Jesus spoke of those who put their faith in him even of being ‘born again’, of being a new creation, even.
As we reach a new year and a new school term, accompanied no doubt by hopes of self-improvement and of doing better than before, we have before us a genuine opportunity to start afresh. With Christmas behind us, we look forward to Easter when Jesus was raised from the dead to new life, defeating the dark powers that work against all of us, thwarting our best efforts. 2012 gives us the opportunity to meet the Lord of life, the giver of opportunities. If you have not already done so, why not make a resolution this year to investigate his claims, perhaps by coming to church on a Sunday or by joining the Alpha Course running on Wednesday evenings, and discover whether a new beginning really is possible?
‘He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” ’ Revelation 21:5
Revd Dr Jonathan Mobey
Rector of Harwell with Chilton