Anticipate a better tomorrow in 2017


By Elizabeth Ortiz - Your Pastor Speaks



After months of preparation and anticipation, Christmas is over and the focus is all on the new year. I find it interesting that we see the first store decorations in August, frantically shop all fall, and spend four weeks focused on Advent and the coming of Christmas, but come Dec. 26 we are over it and planning our resolutions or parties.

Even though Christmas and New Year’s Eve are a week apart, there seems there is no overlap in these holidays within our culture.

Yet, I find that the very things we anticipate, celebrate, and resolute for the new year are very much a continuation of the gift we were given at Christmas. With each new year we anticipate a better self, a better life and a better tomorrow.

We hope in the newness that life will be better and we celebrate the excitement that each year brings. And of course many make resolutions, big and small, of what we hope to become. It is a time of rebirth and hope.

While we relate these to New Year’s, they are all in fact what we have received at Christmas and it seems so quickly forgot. Through the coming of Jesus, God has given us the chance of rebirth and hope that far exceeds what we can accomplish through our own resolutions or will.

We have been given not just a second chance but every chance we need to be better versions of ourselves, to be the individuals God desires us to be. God has shown us that we will not be judged by the shortcoming of our past because God would rather us experience grace and rebirth through Christmas. The hope of each new year should be a reminder of the hope we are given in the birth of Christ.

Further in the theme of resolutions and a better tomorrow, while we are given the gift of Jesus through God’s grace, we are also expected to doggedly pursue God’s will here. Peace on earth and joy to the world should not be empty catch phrases of Christmas to be dusted off once a year. Rather, they are the ultimate resolutions that each of us strive for in light of the hope of Christmas and the new year.

Yet if we fail at our resolutions to lose weight, stop smoking or eat better, how can we possibly hope to bring peace and joy? To promise it without recognizing the difficulty in the task would be false. The world is full of hate, anger, violence, prejudice and abandonment.

This past year brought so much pain to so many that the scope of a resolution for peace and joy can be overwhelming. In fact, it is not just overwhelming but impossible. Or it would be without Christmas and the gift of God with us received that day and every day since.

Jesus came to bring light to the darkness and to heal others. As followers of Christ we are called to do the same. This new year let us make the resolution to bring about the hope, peace and joy that is promised in Christmas. Let us not leave the gift of Christmas collecting dust like our decorations until it is time to put it up again.

Instead let us leap into the new year with the confidence of God’s grace and the resolution to share it day after day. Happy New Year.

By Elizabeth Ortiz

Your Pastor Speaks