“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”
2 Corinthians 5:17
If I were to sit down right now and explore my calendars from years past I would be able to quickly discern a pattern. I would discover a pattern which proceeds in a well ordered progression from the business of the Advent season, through the celebration of Christmas and into the New Year. When Christmas Day arrives there is worship and a gathering with all of the family who is able to be together, followed on Boxing Day with another family gathering. There is feasting, and some hard work. We catch up with family members who we never seem to see often enough. One of the patterns that I am beginning to see with increasing clarity with each year is that this season also brings with it a note of deepening praise. To be sure we praise God for the incredible gift of His Son, but we also praise God for the blessing which He has given us of a family. Some of that family has gone on ahead, rejoicing in the LORD’s presence, but their memory stays with us as we gather together. Others join us each year for their very first Christmas celebration. We find ourselves praising God for each one. This year has been different in many ways with many fears and concerns, but the pattern remains the same.
After a few days together, it always seems to be too few, we go back to our respective homes. Life becomes quiet again, but the pattern continues. Now comes the days of preparation for New Years Day. This always seems to be a time of reflection, as we take stock of our lives and make resolutions regarding the future. These resolutions are a serious matter. So often they are confined to certain external things, like changing our circumstances, or appearance. Seldom do they deal with the deep, sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We make these resolutions, presenting them as wishes, which we proceed to forget within a few short weeks.
The Puritan’s had a practice which I have come across on a number of occasions. This was to spend some time regularly examining their lives in the light of the Gospel. They would meditate upon the Word of God, seeking insight into how they have been living, looking for those areas where they could grow closer to the LORD. They would then resolve to change their lives with the LORD’s help. This would involve prayer, fasting, real repentance, and seeking the help of the Holy Spirit in the changes that they had been led to discover. They recognised that no real change was possible without the help of the Spirit of God. Will power and sheer stubbornness would never be enough. They remedy they required, as do we, was a Gospel solution. It was to really apply to their lives the cross of Christ. You see they recognised that their sin nature must be put to death. This would not happen easily nor would it come about without significant conflict. It would be the work of the Holy Spirit done in our lives as we commit ourselves to walking with the LORD. In preparation for the New Year this is to be part of the pattern of my life. I will endeavour, with the LORD’s help to examine myself to see whether I am truly in the faith. I will then begin to seek the work of the Holy Spirit deepening me in repentance.