Pastoral Notes for Sunday, December 31, 2017

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.”—1 Thessalonians 5:24

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”—Philippians 1:6

For the first five months of 2018, we’re going to work verse by verse through Genesis 1-11 in a series entitled, “New Beginnings.” I’ve titled the series “New Beginnings” for two reasons primarily.

First and most obviously is the fact that this series will begin next Sunday, which is the first Sunday of the new year, January 7, 2018 (Epiphany). But, the second reason is that Genesis, as the title indicates, is a book of beginnings.

Most famously, Genesis retells the story of the beginning of time, space, and history. Only in Genesis do we find a systematic retelling of the creation narrative. But as the story of the beginning unfolds, we find that creation’s beginning is only the first among many “new beginnings” in the book. For Israel, the original audience, Genesis served as the foundation of the Law (also known as the Torah). Given through Moses to the post-Exodus Israelites, Genesis revealed the origin and backstory of God’s covenant love for his people. A love that runs like a red thread through the pages of the Old Testament, culminating in the New Testament with the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.

Not all the beginnings in Genesis are good, however. Sin makes its first appearance on earth in Genesis 3. In Genesis 4, we witness the first murder. In Genesis 7, we witness the one-and-only worldwide flood. Yet with each of these “new beginnings” an opportunity is presented—an opportunity for repentance, redemption, and recreation. That is to say that the narrative of Genesis is shot through with grace, which is the only real and enduring foundation for all new beginnings. 

As we look ahead to 2018, with all its expectations and fears, Genesis teaches us to trust the gracious Creator God who was there at the beginning. For He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Which means that no matter what starts and stops, fits and spurts this year brings, one thing is certain: we can trust this God to carry us all the way.