Message from the Pastor

Rev. Sundar SamuelS

Dear Members and Friends,

I wish you and yours a wonderful and a blessed New Year!

At the beginning of a new year it is customary for us to greet each other with “Happy New Year!” Do we mean “day” rather than “year”? We give the greeting on New Year’s Day, but on the seventh day of the New Year, do we still say it? Are we wishing friends to be happy for only a day or for a whole year? How can one be happy for a whole year when the forecast for the New Year may predict unhappy times? Can you be happy if in the coming year you may have less to eat, if you must make old clothes do for another year, if a vacation is out of the question, and if you must worry about the bills coming due?

Regardless of conditions, we do want to be happy. Is there anyone there who does not want to be happy in the coming year? A teacher of a young adult class asked the students to write their answers to the question, “What do you want most out of life?” Nine out of ten answered, “Happiness.” Psychology Today Magazine took a poll of 40,000 readers. Eighty-three percent responded that their main question was, “How can I find real happiness?” I believe if anybody should be happy, it is a Christian. But, is the average Christian known for his/her joy? Many think of a Christian in terms of solemnity, seriousness, and severity. Some of us are like the country boy whose grandmother forbade him to engage in “worldly amusements” on Sunday. Dejected and lonely, he walked down to the barn fence and while he was there, a mule came up and put his head into the boys’ hands. Patting the sad face of the mule, the boy commiserated, “Poor fellow, you must be a Christian, too.”.

Regardless of conditions, we do want to be happy. Is there anyone there who does not want to be happy in the coming year? A teacher of a young adult class asked the students to write their answers to the question, “What do you want most out of life?” Nine out of ten answered, “Happiness.” Psychology Today Magazine took a poll of 40,000 readers. Eighty-three percent responded that their main question was, “How can I find real happiness?” I believe if anybody should be happy, it is a Christian. But, is the average Christian known for his/her joy? Many think of a Christian in terms of solemnity, seriousness, and severity. Some of us are like the country boy whose grandmother forbade him to engage in “worldly amusements” on Sunday. Dejected and lonely, he walked down to the barn fence and while he was there, a mule came up and put his head into the boys’ hands. Patting the sad face of the mule, the boy commiserated, “Poor fellow, you must be a Christian, too.”

I believe that Christians have good reason to be the happiest people in the world. Their happiness is not based upon the condition of the world but upon the condition of their relationship to God and neighbor. They are happy because of the assurance of God’s unconditional love. This is brought out by Prophet Isaiah in chapter 61: 1-11: “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being shall exult in my God…” Be happy about what? Be happy in the Lord; rejoice “in my God.” And this is no ordinary worldly happiness. The text says, “I will greatly rejoice….” Thus our scripture text assures us that we can be happy this year regardless of what comes. We can be happy, for one thing, because we are free. Prophet Isaiah sings, “He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, he has covered me with the robe of righteousness…” Prophet Isaiah and his people had a great reason to be happy. God had delivered them from the 50-year bondage of the Babylonians, and now they were back in their own country as a free people. They were saved from their enemies.

As Christians we, too, can be happy because God has set us free through Christ. Now we are free from having to earn acceptance with God. There is no longer any problem how to be good enough to be acceptable to God. In his great mercy God in Christ paid the price of our sins and we are set free. Because of being free, we should be the happiest people on earth. But are we?

A Christian should feel the happiness of a newly released prisoner, for daily he/she receives the forgiveness of sins and he/she is accepted by God. A Christian can be happy all the coming year, because we are in love. We are in love with Jesus. We are in love with him, because he first loved us. Because he loves us, he understands our problems. We do not have to suffer or walk alone in this world. He understands what we are going through and he promises to be with us at all times and will take care of us as his beloved children. This frees us from worry about the things we worry about on a regular basis. He promises to us that he will provide for all our essential needs. We are happy because we are secure and happy in his love, and he will provide what we need.

There is another reason why you as a Christian can be happy throughout the coming year. It is because you can say in Christ, “I shall overcome.” A Christian lives with a sense of victory over the world. God’s cause of righteousness is sure to prevail just as each spring, nature comes to life again after the barren winter. This simply means to say that a Christian is happy even when things are bad, when life is in the winter season. Like every other person in the world, a Christian experiences the seamy side of life with disappointments, sorrows, tragedies, injustices, and misunderstandings. Suffering and death come to a Christian as well as to the non-Christian. The difference is that a Christian lives with a spirit of “I shall overcome,” just as our Lord has overcome death on the cross. Therefore, our happiness comes from a confidence in God’s overruling providence. We go through life with trust in these words, “All things work together for good to them that love God…” God can take the worst that comes to us and change it into the best for us.

In his mercy God takes the unfortunate things that befall us and make us better persons out of them. True Christians go through life with joy in their hearts, no matter what happens. They can even laugh at death, even when their dearest one dies. It is because as Christians we see beyond death and the grave to life, resurrection and return of Christ. Christ conquered death, and because Christ lives, those in Christ live, too. You know, if you and I follow the guidance of our text from the prophet Isaiah, we can have the happiest year of our lives. This is based on the fact that God is with us and for us. In the coming year God is going to do something good for us. Because of the “happy Day” when Jesus came into our lives, we can have a “happy New Year.” As Christians we enter the New Year with joyful anticipation, excitement and with high hopes for the very best!

Joy and Peace be with you,

Pastor Sundar