It is that time of year again when we are reminded to look in the rearview mirror and ponder our experience of the past 12 months. I have heard some say, “I can’t wait until we close the book to 2016. I am ready for a fresh new start.” Others have experienced 2016 as a year of blessings upon blessings. For most, it has been a combination of joy and heartache, of successes and failures, of good health and challenging health issues, of death and grief, and the joy and excitement of birth. Life is just that way.

As we stand on our tippy toes ready to open that “brand spanking new” New Year, I can’t help but wonder what is in store for us this year? Do we eagerly step into 2017 with excitement and enthusiasm, or do we cautiously step into the New Year with fear and trepidation?

What emotions are you feeling right now? As you ponder those emotions, I would like to share with you a story, a story about an old piano man named Amos.

The old piano man ran his fingers up and down the keys of a run-down instrument. He sang a few sad notes to himself. It was Christmas Eve and old Amos was feeling pretty sad. He was all alone with nowhere to go. He once had a wife and a beautiful little girl, but somehow they slipped out of his life.

In his sadness he decided to take a walk through the streets of downtown. While walking, he saw a small girl standing in front of a department store window. The little girl was looking at a display of the Nativity.

Expenses had not been spared in creating the scene: a marble pillared inn, an exquisite manger made of finished hardwoods and a stable of solid polished mahogany.

As the little girl stood and stared at the display, a security guard chased her away. The little girl began to cry. Old Amos came over to her. “I just wanted to see the baby,” the little girl kept repeating.

Amos said, “That’s not the way they looked. Let me show you how it really was.”

In another section of the city, Amos gathered some of his friends. Together, they recreated the Christmas story for the little girl. “When the baby Jesus was born,” Amos said, “it wasn’t a great big inn with marble columns. And the crib wasn’t sitting under a polished mahogany stable. It was in front of an old crumbling down inn and the stable wasn’t much different than this old awning hanging over the sidewalk.”

The little girl watched in awe as Amos’ friends acted out the Christmas drama. Others who were passing by also stopped to watch.

“Angel,” Amos whispered, “the baby Jesus is like one of us. Don’t you ever let anybody make you feel any different. He walked the same kind of road we walk. From now on, wherever you go, you just remember Jesus is walking right there with you, and there ain’t nothing you two can’t handle.”

Now, how is it you are feeling standing at the threshold of 2017? If we are honest, maybe we discover we are feeling a combination of excitement and fear. My New Year’s prayer, for you and for me, as we approach 2017, is we do so with faith and an eagerness to embrace new opportunities to serve our great God and to be God’s witness, no matter what comes our way.
Always remember, from now on wherever you go, Jesus is walking right there with you, and there ‘ain’t’ nothing you two can’t handle.

Happy New Year!
Pastor Russel

Photo by Stephen Wilson