Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Real Hope for the New Year

“Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!” What immediately comes to mind for you when you hear that phrase? My mind is flooded with memories of the Christmas we just experienced and Christmases of the past and my heart smiles. Then I think about a New Year, a fresh start, new goals, new chances, new beginnings and I get excited.

I remember some of my favorite gifts that I received as a little girl: my ten-speed bike, my cabbage patch doll, a snowsuit, new Reebok tennis shoes, and my Esprit book bag. I think of having my own children and watching the awe and wonder on their faces the first time they saw their gifts beneath the tree: the large Barbie hotel that my husband spent all night putting together for our girls, a sled, a remote control car and a new football for our son. I think about traditions like riding in a horse-drawn carriage while singing Christmas carols in downtown Denver, Christmas Eve seafood dinner and opening our pajamas that we will wear for Christmas day, reading the Christmas story before even one gift is opened, un-wrapping baby Jesus and putting him in the manger before we are unleashed to open stockings, my mom’s homemade cinnamon rolls, and breakfast lasagna. Memories of family, friends, laughter, smiles, and joy. I have goosebumps just thinking about it.

I also realize this time of year may not carry the same meaning or positive past experiences for others as it does for me. 

Some of us are thankful Christmas is over, and the thought of a New Year brings anxiety and fear. 

It can be a difficult season. Some people are alone, are experiencing hardship, illness, or loss. Some have terrible memories of the holidays and wish they could fall asleep and wake up in the middle of January. For some, this season just magnifies broken families, strained relationships, fear, anger, and sadness. I am acutely aware of this because some of the people I love are right smack dab in the middle of these hard circumstances. In fact, I have been there myself, staring at the Christmas tree lights in the middle of financial hardship or dreading a New Year when my marriage was on the brink of the total destruction. I longed for all things to be made new January 1st and wondered, “God, where are you?”

I think that is why this year, more than any other year, I have appreciated looking at the Christmas story through a new and different lens. The lens of real life. If you attend  Flatirons, we just finished a series called Broken Halos. You see, the characters of the Bible in the Christmas story, are real people, experiencing real life, asking some of the same questions that we often ask God in the midst of the real circumstances we are experiencing. This year, more than any other, I am thankful to serve a King who was born into this world and experienced real life just as we do today. (John 3:16

Jesus experienced joy, sadness, anger, celebration, heartbreak, hardship, pain, anguish, love, and friendship. 

I don’t know about you, but it brings me great joy and comfort to know that in every situation we find ourselves in, He can truly say, “Me too”. We can find peace in that truth.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” -Hebrews 4:15-16.

So, whatever circumstance you find yourself in today, remember that Jesus can be trusted. He is called Immanuel, God with Us. (Matthew 1:23). He not only walked this earth and experienced real life, but he is with us now, walking through our real lives with us, right by our side. Jesus is with us, every day, in our past, present and future. Now that gives me goosebumps too.

Lara is the Women’s Ministry Director at Flatirons Community Church. Lara and her husband Eric have been married for 17 years and they are parents to three teenagers. As you can imagine life is busy at the Veve household, but they embrace the beautiful chaos of life during this season.

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