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Homilies from Nola Crewe
1st January 2006

Luke 2:15-21

And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

Help me to live for you today. Help me to speak your truth and live your love wherever I am and whomever I meet. AMEN.

Happy New Year . . . Welcome 2006 . . .

In the Jewish faith, seven days after a male child is born the community comes together to welcome him and ten Jewish adult men, constituting a minyan gather for prayer, and to bear witness to the fulfillment of the promise made by Abraham so many years before: that each of his descendents would carry the visible sign of the covenant between him and God: each would be circumcised. God’s promise of mercy would be shared by each Jew who made that commitment. It is the Jewish equivalent of baptism.

And so, seven days after His birth, the ritual was performed, the promises offered, the cut made, the name given. And after that day the child bore the name of Jesus, “God Saves”, as the angel had foretold.

This, then, is the day we celebrate as Christ straddled the great transition of faith . . . observing the traditions and fulfilling the teachings of the Old Testament . . . while bringing joy and salvation for those who would choose to follow him in a new covenant of life everlasting.

So how shall we celebrate this new day? This, the day, when all is new? . . . this, the first day of a new year . . . this, the day that speaks of new beginnings . . . new opportunities . . . new resolves . . . new promises . . . For in Christ, all is new.

Now, I would like to suggest that to make all those “news” really effective, this is the time for a Spring cleaning. We don’t have to wait for April or May for this one, because the only windows to wash are on the soul and the beating of rugs is replaced by a new drum. We can Spring clean the old and worn, the tired, defeated and discouraged notions we’ve clung to for far too long. We can dust out those cubby holes of our mind that hold the negative and antiquated ideas: the ones that say “can’t” and “won’t work” and “never been done” . . . whenever we get a new idea or want to try a first time.

It’s a time to turf out the baggage we have carted around since childhood: from classrooms and nasty relatives, from snobby neighbours, crabby social workers and miserable bosses.

The first of January is a fine time to examine our lives. What do we need to do to make things better? What do we need to do to share our blessings? What do we need to do to heal old wounds?

First, for a soul check . . .

• are we growing in faith?
• are we reading the Bible and learning of Christ?
• are we listening for the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit?
• are we attending church?
• are we praying?
• are we making God our priority?

Are we heading in the right direction? Are we worrying about what other people are doing? . . . rather than what we are up to?

Are we living lives we are proud of?

We can make resolutions to forgive rather than resent. We can believe rather than doubt. We can plant an oak tree for future generations to enjoy the shade.

And who wins with these lovely resolutions? Why, you do, of course! When you follow in the path that Christ laid out for us, life inevitably is better.

Have you ever noticed that when you clean out your cupboard and get rid of the clothes you haven’t worn for years;

or toss out all those jars and containers in your fridge with just a dab of this or that;

or finally get rid of all the papers on your desk and the debris thrown out . . .

you feel lighter, the world brighter and you, more in control.

Getting rid of all the old, hung-onto, grief's and grievances is the same thing. You just feel incredibly free and relieved.

And that is what the New Year is all about . . . the clean mind and the open heart . . . and the New Testament . . . and the new life that Jesus gave to us. So I wish you a very happy and joyous and blessed New Year: may we all live our lives to the fullest degree, rejoicing in the great gift of newness and renewal that Christ’s birth brings to us each year. A M E N .

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