A New You in the New Year

We want to know what’s inside, don’t we? Inside the Christmas Cracker. Inside the Christmas presents. Children had trouble sleeping this past Christmas Eve wanting to know what was inside the wrapped boxes under the tree.

Joseph and Mary had some questions too. Not about what was in a box. But what was inside Mary. “It was discovered before they came together that she was pregnant…” Joseph had been a good fiancée. He had been taking cold showers, waiting for their wedding night to consummate their relationship. So when Mary’s midsection began to expand, Joseph’s mind began to explode.

That’s why the angel showed up. He told Joseph in a dream that inside Mary was a child conceived by the Holy Spirit. His name was to be Jesus because he would “save his people from their sins.” The prophet Isaiah had given him another name—Immanuel—or “God with us.”

Something wonderful was inside Mary: Jesus. And here’s a post-Christmas announcement for you. Jesus can be inside you. The best in Mary can bring out the best in you.

When John wrote about the coming of Christ he used words like “light” to describe him. Jesus was a light that shined in the darkness of our world. Our world needs light. Our world needs our best.

Charles Dickens believed his world needed some light. Too much poverty. Horrible working conditions. He wanted to bring out the best in people so he attempted to do so with his story, A Christmas Carol. In it we watch the transformation of Scrooge from a miser to a benefactor of the poor.

There was something better inside Scrooge all along. It just had to come out. It took him looking at the events of his past that had shaped him. It took him becoming aware of his present actions to get honest about his behavior. It took him peering into the future to see what could be. It took a process for him to become the best Scrooge a Scrooge could be.

That’s the best gift of Christmas. You see, Jesus was born in Mary so that he could be born in us. The Apostle Paul liked to remind the church that’s where Jesus is: in us. He called it a mystery. Something that can’t be seen, like what’s inside a Christmas Cracker or a Christmas present. But it has been made known, and that mystery he says is this: “… Christ in you.”

It was a mystery to Joseph how the Holy Spirit placed Jesus in Mary. But he did. And it’s a mystery how the Holy Spirit places Jesus in us. But he does. And with any birth, there is a time for what is being formed in us to come out for others to see.

What will others see in you this New Year? Will they see Jesus? Will they see the best you there is? Or will they see the worst? A birth does not happen overnight and neither does transformation.

We have to let Jesus walk us through our past. Our sin. The sin of others in our lives. And how that has shaped us in ways that caused us to live below our best. We have to let Jesus speak to us about our present behavior, our actions, our feelings and what that tells us about our best and worst self. And we have to let Jesus reveal to us a vision of our future. Where we will end up if our path does not change. Where we would like to end up if we do change. And show us the gap between that future “you” and the one you see in the mirror today.

Wouldn’t you like to see what is inside…you…this year? If Christ is to come out of you he has to first be in you. You have to ask him in. Once there, he can help you get rid of the things that should not be there. Things like immorality, impurity, hatred, anger, selfishness. Then he’ll replace them with things like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Wouldn’t you like to open yourself up and find the best you inside? It starts with Jesus in you. And heaven knows: the world could use the best you and me this year.

Question: What is something “new” people need to see from you this New Year?

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