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Evalgelical Lutheran Church in America Northeastern Ohio Synod
Letters from Pastor Alan Smearsoll

January 2019

A happy and most blessed New Year to all of you. As we mark the passing from one year to the next, the word “new” seems to bring a fresh hope to all. A “new” year. A “new” beginning. Seems like when we look back at the past, we tend to remember the bad things that happened to us more than the good. We enter the new year hoping that it will bring better health, better financial situations, better family relationships, better job opportunities.

Maybe there is something to look forward to this year, like a wedding or a graduation, a new birth in the family or the Cleveland Browns competing for once J. Whatever the scenario, the new year seems to offer a new hope.

And then the year trudges on, just like the previous one. Resolutions aren’t kept. Jobs are lost. The family continues to argue. Health doesn’t improve. The promise of the new year just brought more of the same old.

The turning of the calendar page to a new year only brings a hope that is short lived. It is with us until the pounds don’t come off, the brother and sister who got along at Christmas are fighting again, or the car doesn’t run and money must be spent on a new one.

Perhaps you have seen the Facebook posts that people share promising that if you pass this on within the next two hours, blessings will come your way by 3:00 tomorrow. Why do people fall for such false hope? Maybe it is because the baptized have not done a very good job of proclaiming and living in the true hope that is Jesus.

Jesus doesn’t promise that if you believe in him you will never have to buy another automobile or that you will never get sick, or that all your troubles will vanish. In fact, the new year may bring more trouble than before.

St. Paul writes: “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” A contemporary translation from The Voice New Testament reads “Therefore, if anyone is united with the Anointed One, that person is a new creation. The old life is gone – and see – a new life has begun!”

A new life has begun! This gives us hope to meet the day ahead. Every day the baptized can confidently say it is a new day in Christ. This starts, not with renewed health or financial blessing, or lost weight, but with grace poured out every day. Living in this grace, we have the strength to meet the challenges that greet us every day. The old life of yesterday is gone, a new life has begun! Remember your baptism daily! Happy New You!

Pastor Alan


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