Are You Ready to Start a New Year?

Last week, my husband was a camera operator for our church’s evening Christmas Eve service.

Because of this, we arrived about an hour before the service began.

I planned to meditate on scripture while I waited for the service to start.

However, upon entering the sanctuary, I met a friend who had signed up to usher for the first time and began asking me if I knew what he was supposed to do.

Shortly after, another friend who was ushering arrived and asked me if I thought they should light the altar candles this early or wait.

Next, two of our facilities team approached, talked about some things they had cleaned because of earlier services, and asked me if they should bring out the individual candles to hand out to worshippers since people had already arrived to get a good seat.

If you read last week’s post, you know this experience of “ask Barbara” is not an unusual phenomenon for me.

So how did I respond to all these questions?

And what does it have to do with being ready to start a new year?

Most importantly, what does it have to do with studying the Bible?

For my friend who had never ushered before, I shared what I had observed other ushers do during services while making it clear I had never served as an usher myself.

When asked about lighting the altar candles, I deferred to their judgment since they had served in this role before, unlike me.

When the facilities team approached, I laughed out loud and said, “Guys, I’m not in charge of all this tonight. I am simply here to attend the service.”

As everyone around me started laughing at my remark, a gentleman approached us, saying, “Have any of you found a white stuffed animal? My granddaughter left it here earlier today and is inconsolable because of it. I came back to find it to save Christmas for her and the family.”

He shared how he had looked in several places with no results.

Observing his sad heart, I got up from where I had planned to meditate on scripture and offered to help him look for the white stuffed animal.

After looking in several more places without finding the white stuffed animal, I encouraged him to call the church the following Wednesday to inquire if it had turned up since we would be closed on Monday and Tuesday.

Dejected, the gentleman stated he’d go home and share the bad news.

Then as I walked past the children’s ministry area on my way back to the sanctuary, out of the corner of my eye I noticed a box marked “lost and found” with a more gray than white because of its well-loved status, a large stuffed bunny rabbit.

I snatched the bunny rabbit and ran back to the lobby in hopes I could catch the gentleman.

Amazingly, he was standing outside under the portico with his back to the door, looking at his phone.

Upon opening the door, I called his name and, waving the bunny rabbit in the air, asked, “Is this it?”

His eyes brightened with a mixture of joy and relief.

“Yes, you have saved Christmas!”

He even offered me his services as an eye doctor if I needed anything because of his relief at knowing his granddaughter would find relief in the return of her well-loved bunny rabbit.

As I walked back to the sanctuary, I realized the security cameras probably captured me running down the hallway with a large stuffed bunny rabbit in my hands.

I couldn’t help but start giggling at what that must have looked like.

Finally, I could sit down and wait for the service to begin.

While people were filing in, I picked up a bulletin for someone who dropped it.

Next, I noticed some large chunks of black rubber had fallen off of someone’s shoe and were on the pathway, so I moved them out of the way.  

When the offering plate was being passed, I realized my friend who was working in the section I was sitting in was all by herself. So, I got up and helped pass the plate back and forth with her.

Then, once we began singing Silent Night and lighting each other’s candles, I noticed our senior pastor was helping to pass the light to the section in front of me because no one else was there to do it.

So, I stepped forward and did the same, working from the back side forward.

What is the point of me sharing all this with you when the title of this post is are you ready to start a new year?

And what on earth does it have to do with studying the Bible?

Especially since I have yet to even reference a single scripture.

Well, consider these words of Jesus Christ.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. [1]

What happens when we keep Christ’s commandments?

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.[2]

What is the commandment that Christ gave us in the verses above?

Now consider the words of the Apostle Paul.

So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. [3]

I had planned on having a private meditation time while I waited for the Christmas Eve service to begin last week.

But the Lord reminded me that was not the right approach to the evening.

Instead, He brought a succession of needs before me to wake me up to put others before myself.

Not that having a private meditation time with Him is a wrong thing to do or desire. But at that moment, it was not the correct aim.

The correct aim was to be present to the people around me and help them in whatever capacity I could.

Do I always get this right?

Of course not!

I could just as easily have gotten irritated and huffed off to get away from everyone so that I could follow through with my plan to have a private time with the Lord.

But you and I both know that would not have been the correct response, let alone the loving thing to do as a follower of Christ.

Consider these words of John:

16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.[4]

In asking you if you are ready to start a new year, I am not thinking of the fact that we are transitioning from 2023 to 2024.

I am asking a much deeper question.

I am asking, are you ready to start a new year of loving those around you as God loves you?

Take a moment to list some simple things you can do that express love. Remember it can be as simple of noticing broken pieces of rubber need to be removed from a pathway and taking the action to remove them.

I am asking, are you willing to sacrifice for those around you so others will see God’s love for them?

If so, what immediately comes to mind when you think of making a sacrifice for someone in your life?

I am also asking myself these things.

How have you experienced God’s nudges to share His Love with others?


Barbara Lynn

But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” [5]

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 15:9–11.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 15:12–14.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Php 2:1–5.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 3:16–17.

[5] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Jn 3:21.

2 Replies to “Are You Ready to Start a New Year?”

  1. Beautiful and timely when more of me is being needed at this time in my life. Pray for me for wisdom, patience and actions that represent love. Thank you.

    1. You’re welcome Brenda. Heavenly Father I ask You to provide Brenda all she needs during this season to share Your love with those around her.

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