happy new year 2023

A New Year

by Geoff Serpell

How far are you into making new year resolutions? Is it the best time to contemplate what we would like to achieve, at the start of a new year? Have we failed so miserably in keeping previous plans that we think we are too old to now bother? Maybe last year was so terrible that we have just decided not to go down that road again if we can help it.

I want to come back to the answer Jesus gave to his two first disciples, who   questioned Jesus by asking, where are you staying? They were given the answer: “Come and see”.

Saul was converted from an antagonist over to being a Christian with a name change to be called Paul. He wrote many letters mostly preserved appealing to both Jews and gentiles writing appeals to children, adults, including women, and the elderly, to play active roles in church leadership, using spiritual gifts given people by God. All Christians have a call to be God’s saints, that is to live Holy lives and some have a further call to be apostles, teachers and the like. It is God who supplies the spirit and strength to fulfill that call. When God calls us, it is being that he is most concerned about, that is who and what we are. We are invited to offer each moment of our lives to the Lord. A morning prayer usually for me is to ask for guidance and to whom may be supported by my efforts during the coming day. I know that I am not much, Lord, but I’m yours. Take me and use me as you will.

John the Baptist had come to link people to Christ, not himself. He played second fiddle for his Lord. So, the two disciples of John followed Jesus. “What are you looking for?” asked Jesus of these two men. It would be a good thing every now and again, if we asked ourselves “What am I looking for?” What’s my aim and goal?”, “What am I really trying to get out of life?” Some may answer: Security, others, a career while others would argue for some sort of peace.

Jesus’. Answer was: “Come and see”

They were invited to not only come and see, but to come and find the things that he alone could open out to them. One of the two was Andrew, after which all that mattered to him was that he would serve Jesus as well as he could, he was the patron saint of all who humbly and loyally and ungrudgingly take second place. Andrew brought his brother called Simon to Jesus, where- upon Jesus gave him the name, Cephas, [or Peter] meaning the rock.

Jesus had that knack of not only seeing what a person is but he sees what a person can become. The Lord saw not just a fisherman but also someone who had it in him to become the rock on which the church could be built. “Give your life to me, and I will make you what you have it in you to be.” Once someone came on Michelangelo chipping away with his chisel at a huge shapeless piece of rock. He asked the sculptor what he was doing. “I am releasing the angel imprisoned in this marble.” He answered. Jesus is the one who sees and can release the hidden hero in every person.

Do we sometimes feel overlooked? Maybe such as Andrew who was mostly in the background of the Biblical stories. I do not often take a back seat. I enjoy organizing. But last September I was diagnosed with a nasty cancer of the prostate. After surgery removal I was told I was free of the cancer. This was confirmed by the surgeon a week ago. It could have been very different. I now have a new lease on life. Just prior to my surgery, I gave the eulogy at the funeral of one of my best friends. We were members of the Victoria Welsh choir over the years and had sung many duets together. Our favorite song was “No matter what you say, I still suits me”. He died of prostate cancer.

How about you compose a prayer, thanking God for his deep love of yourself and notice how it feels to be known, foibles and all, by the God who made you and I, loves you and I, and calls you and I to follow. Will you do it?