I like the notion of “fresh starts” and “second chances.” How about you?
2020. It certainly will go down and be remembered as a memorable year. It was a rough year for many. The pandemic was the filter through which most of life flowed. Lives were tremendously impacted. Sadly, lives were lost. And even as I type this to you, we are watching and waiting as the vaccines for the COVID- 19 virus are starting to be given to a weary population.
HBC…you have been phenomenal! You have been so supportive and encouraging and I am so very proud of you and grateful for you and all that you have done in remaining faithful to God’s mission in and through Hazelwood Baptist!
There were many things that we were unable to experience in 2020 and in some ways, it left an air of incompleteness. We missed our hugs, handshakes, our gatherings, and much more – we missed each other. A lot. 2020 will go down as a year of unforeseen brokenness and change. But, in a sense, I feel that it isn't all a bad thing to lament our losses. But it is a bad thing to spend the rest of your life looking over a shoulder to the past instead of lifting your eyes to the future. Hopefully, we have learned a few things.
2021 and the turning of the calendar to a new year is a big deal. It’s huge. The new year is a clean slate. It is a chance to start over. But I'm not suggesting that you make a long list of New Year's Resolutions. In fact, I would advise against it. Remember the advice Jesus gave about just taking care of today and not biting off tomorrow's troubles: "Each day has challenges enough of its own!" he said. (Matthew 6:34)
2021 is God's present to you. With His presence and in one-day-at-a-time attitude, creative new things will come out of the waste-and-void chaos of the past. And life will become fresh every morning.
I close with a prayer for all of us at Hazelwood as we enter into a new year together:
Father, Give us a new year. Not just a new number, but a truly new year. Give us a year full of new things, new adventures, new attitudes, and visions. Lord, give us a new year full of new ideas and refresh some of our old ideas. Give us new relationships and renew old relationships, and restore relationships that have been broken. Give us a new song. Give us a new memory. Give us a new image of Your Son, and help us to show His image of those who are new to You. Give us new thoughts, new friends, and new things that replace the old worn-out things. 2020 was difficult for all of us. There were struggles and frustrations and disappointments that we did not handle so well. Give us a better mentality and better spiritual insight that will help us deal with the struggles, frustrations and disappointments that will come in this New Year. God, give us a year filled with new ministries, new opportunities, new voices, and new messages. Help us hold on to the old things that are worth holding, and help us let go of the old things that have served their purpose.
God, give us a new year that is not controlled by fear. A year when we are not afraid of ideas that are new, of plans that are new, and places that are new. Give us a year filled with new love. A new love for You. Give us a new love for each other. A new love for Your Kingdom. A new love for strangers. A new love for the helpless. A new love for the needy. Give us a new love for all people. Help us put 2020 to bed. Help us to leave the things of the past in the past. Help us look forward. Help us look beyond what we can see to what You have planned for us that we cannot see. Help us move forward in 2021 with confidence and courage and humility and gentleness. Help us, in this New Year to completely surrender to You and what You have planned for us in 2021 - filled with new things. We trust in Your plan for our lives.
You are loved, Hazelwood…so very much! Happy 2021!
Pastor Tim Lolley