Living the New Year in Jesus’ Name

Grace, mercy, and peace to you in the name of Jesus.

Today, we’re going to talk about living the new year in Jesus’ name.

New Year’s is a time when we look both backward and forward.

The month of January is named after the mythological Roman god, Janus, who was pictured as a man with two faces, one looking forward and the other looking backward.

New Year’s Day provides a valuable time to ponder the past, while anticipating the future.

What better way to wrap up the old year, and begin the new year, than in the name of Jesus.

In our Gospel today, we read about the circumcision and naming of Jesus.

When he was eight days old, he was circumcised according to the Old Testament covenant, and given the name that God had chosen for him, as the angel had told  Joseph to do, “And you are to give him the name Jesus.”.

Ironically, that wasa Greek or Gentile name. There was no Jewish name for the Messiah who was promised to the Jews and born as a Jew. That’s because the Messiah was given for the Gentiles as well.

When Simeon, took the baby Jesus in his arms in the temple, he called him“a light to the gentiles, and the glory of the people of Israel.”

Jesus is our Savior’s name, and that’swhat his name means, Savior, or the Lord saves. The One who saves us is the one we live for in 2017 and in all our future years.

As the people of God, we live our lives and order days in the name of Jesus.

And we even order our calendar in the name of Jesus. As of today, we live in the year, 2017 AD."A.D.", as you might know, is an abbreviation for the Latin term "Anno Domini", meaning, "In the year of our Lord."

Originally it would have been "Anno Domini Nostri (I)esu Christi", translated: "In the year of our Lord Jesus Christ", which would be abbreviated, ADNIC. But we shorten it to AD."Anno Domini": "In the year of our Lord."

We know that our calendar is likely a few years off, that Jesus was born probably about 3 or 4 B.C., and when the AD system of numbering years was developed, about 500 years after Jesus was born, they likely miscalculatedhis birth by a few years.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the yearly calendar was organized around the birth of Christ.

That’s a good reminder for us to organize the new year around Christ, to live 2017 in His name.

Every time we write the date and the year, when we sign a check, or a document of some kind, it can be a sort statement of faith for us, a reminder to live 2017 in the name of Jesus.

Living 2017 in Jesus’ name means many things. The two things we’re going to talk about today are 1) forgetting, and 2) hoping.

If you can successfully combine forgetting and hoping in the right measure, then 2017 will be a good year, no matter the unforeseen things that may happen in your life.

Living 2017 in Jesus’ name means,1) forgetting.

Some things are easy to forget, like where our keys are, or what time our appointment is.

Other things are hard to forget:our mistakes, our sins, and the sins of others against us.

Living in Jesus’ name means forgetting those things.

In a sense, we could say living in Jesus’ name means living with no memory.

In the movie, The Shawshank Redemption, there’s a great line about living in a place with no memory.

In this movie, a man named Andy Dufrene, is falsely convicted of killing his wife, and he’s imprisoned at Shawshank, where the worst criminals are kept.

There’s this scene where he’s telling his friend, named Red,that he dreams of escaping and living in the warmth of Mexico, along the wide, open Pacific Ocean.

And he says the natives say that the Pacific Ocean is a place with no memory. Then he says, “That’s where I want to live, a warm place with no memory.” A place where he could forget all about the bad things that had happened to him.

That sounds like a good place to live; where you can forget all about the bad things.

The Church is kind of like the Pacific Ocean, in that sense.

This is a place of no memory for past sins; a place of forgiving and forgetting, and starting over.

Looking back at 2016, you may see some things thathappened in your life that you’d rather forget. The good news is that when God forgives us for Jesus’ sake, he keeps no memory of our sins.

That means we can leave those mistakes back in 2016, in the past, and not carry the guilt or shame or embarrassment with us into 2017.

That’s how tolive 2017 in Jesus’ name. As God forgives and forgets, so do we; we forget our mistakes and forgive others.

Anything anyone has done against you this past year, you can leave in 2016, and let it stay there, and be forgotten there.

Forget the sins and mistakes, and hurts and disappointments of 2016, andinstead, live 2017 hoping for the blessings to come.

Living 2017 in Jesus’ name means forgetting, and it means hoping.

When you forget the mistakes of the past, you can have hope for the future.

Back to the movie, “Shawshank Redemption”, when Andy tells his friend, Red, about his hope of living along the Pacific Ocean someday, Red tells him not do that to himself, because it was never going to happen. But, Andy escapes that night, and lives out the rest his days in Mexico, along the Pacific Ocean.

And he leaves a letter for Red that says, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things.” He does that so that Red won’t lose hope, just like Andy never lost hope. Well, Red finally is released and joins Andy down in Mexico.

The point of the story is, don’t lose hope, even, and especially, in times of adversity.

1 Peter 1:3-4 says Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade, kept in heaven for you.Even though now for a while you may have to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith, of greater worth than gold, may be refined and proved genuine.

Living the new year in Jesus’ name means having faith and hope in the gospel, no matter how difficult times may get.

Living in the hope of the gospel is what drives the people of God forward and keeps us from giving up.

Today, this morning, perhaps as we speak, is the annual Rose Bowl Parade.

A number of years ago, there was a float that ran out of gas, and it held up the parade for quite a while, until it could be refueled. The irony is it was a Petroleum Company float, Standard Oil, now Exxon.

When hope runs out, so does your power for living.

Without hope, life stops. You may keep on existing, but you don’t keep on living.

When you have faith in Christ, you never run out of living hope, thatpowerful hope that’s in the gospel.

Living 2017 in the name of Jesus means living every day, Jan. 1 – Dec. 31, in the bright hope of the gospel.

Even when the circumstances of 2017 get dark, your heart and mind can stay bright with hope, because you know you always have a helper, more than a helper, a powerful Savior, as his name, Jesus,always reminds us.

Today, looking back at 2016 in the name of Jesus, we lose our memory of past mistakes.

Looking ahead, in 2017, we see a bright path to follow, as we live in the hope of the gospel.

May God bless you to live 2017 in the name of Jesus,with forgiveness and hope.

And in 2017 may the peace of God, which passes understanding, guard your heart and mind, in Christ Jesus, our Savior. Amen.