New Year: Challenges and opportunities

Rev L Simon Raomai *

One more year or the old year has just passed and another year, a new year is added in our life with the dawning of a new day, packed with 12 months, 52 weeks, 365 days and 24 hours which is a gift from Godto every single human being irrespective of caste, creed, colour and status; from kings down to the servants for good or bad; for construction and destructions; for success or failures depending on how we make use of the New Year and its opportunities. It reminds us afresh that time does not stand still and that we are all creatures of time subject to the universal law of life, namely, change and motion.

As we stand at the threshold of another New Year, we should think about the burned remains of the past that cannot return and look forward with hope to the New Year with all its challenges and opportunities.

All new things attract our attention, so also the New Year. There is hardly any one who is not fascinated by something that is new. Our outlook and perception often associate newness with the latest fashion in dress and jewellery, the new model of mobiles, cars and gadgets in the market; the current hits in music and films, and the new discoveries of Science and technology.

But is common knowledge that so called new fashions, new models and new styles have but a brief sway over us because they are susceptible to change and decay, and lose their fascination –as soon as something and newer thing else emerges, as new and fashionable, rendering the former things, old and out modeled and as such stale and staid. In contrast to these things which were new have become old ones.

The things which are new today and will grow old tomorrow or the day after, the Bible speaks of things of a different nature and quality. In fat, ‘the new’ is one of the dominant themes in the Bible. The pages of the Old Testament as well as the New Testament are replete with reference to ‘a New heart’, ‘a new covenant’, ‘a new city’, ‘a new Jerusalem’, a new commandment’, ‘ a new heaven’, and ‘a new earth’ etc.

There is also the promise in the Book Revelation; “Behold, I make all things new; These are different from the things of passing novelty because their newness in the product of God’s eternal and ceaseless creative and redemptive activity in and among men. They remain always new because they are subject to the transforming and renewing power of the living God, Immanuel, who is with us and is working among us.

In the context of our Christian faith, we have to understand newness as a process through which God renews our heart and minds and reforms and reconstruct human social order when it becomes concept and inhuman. Thus newness according to our Christian faith is primarily concerned with us and our society. It is to be seen in our personal lives and social relationships. God wants us to be new men bearing the stamp of His transforming and renewing power. Inorder to become new men and women, we must surrender ourselves to God.

When we do so, confessing our sins, He will take away the old heart hardened by sin and in its place will give us a new heart filled with love, peace and joy. He will banish from our minds all fear which drives us to seek security in false values, old traditions and out moded social structures; he will give us courage to take the risk of a new life-style which conforms not to worldly standards but to the will God and laws of justice, peace and righteousness.

The world is in need of men and women with a new vision committed to a new value system and a new life-style who are willing to be instruments of God to change the contemporary archaic world order which tends to sacrifice the well-being and future of man at the altar of the security of the old sovereign nation-state.

The irresponsible and indiscriminate exploitation of the earth’s resources threatens the survival of the human race. This together with the natural instinct of man to possess and consume without any care and concern for his brother’s need may soon our mother earth uninhabitable to mankind. Therefore, today, there are many forests and rivers left without animals and fish due to human careless, greed and selfish. In the contrast of such an impending human crisis, we have to think of the hopes and fears possibilities and potentialities of the New Year.

The New Year should direct us morecloser to God and be with Him in His unending work of creation and renewal. It should inspire us to initiate new relationships and forge new movements which will lead us to take the risk of making new ‘humanizing adoptions’ which are urgently needed inorder to create a new human order at the national and international levels.

The essence of these new humanizing adaptations depends on the willingness of men to discard the old ethic of consumerism and the cut-throat competition which is rooted in the selfish and acquisitive nature of man. Instead we ought to follow the divine law of material concern and care, cooperation and goodwill.

In other words, a new human world order requires man and his welfare and future to be the centre of all human endeavor rather than the security of the sovereign nation- state which has proved to be the cause of war and destruction and higher level of intellectual and spiritual evolution of man that will convert him from a parochial man into a global man with an utter loyalty and commitment to the human community and its survival.

What we see today all over the country is a picture of millions and millions of hungry people, thousands of frustrated unemployed youngmen and women. And still there are thousands of people living with HIV/AIDS, especially, the poor widows who are stigmatized.

Besides, Bandhs, strikes and gheraos have become a culture of our land. Added to this are the sky – rocketing prizes keeping the basic necessities of life beyond the reach of the common man. We also see a few rich people and politicians exploiting the less privileged for fulfilling their selfish desires of amassing wealth and power which will probably lead to conflict between haves and have nots one day.

Corruption and injustice are rampant. As a result of this situation, there is a widespread frustration and disillusionment all over. People are left like sheep without a shepherd. In such a gloomy atmosphere, the New Year calls for taking new initiatives and new ventures towards communal harmony and peace in an ism suffered state like Manipur. The Churches as well as its members should act in this crisis with a sense of urgency and carry out their ministry of reconciliation.

Shedding their traditional political apathy they should join hands with all the honest men to expose the unscrupulous and power – hungry politicians and replace them with leaders, dedicated to the cause of the poor and oppressed.

Christians should realize their own share of responsibility in the prevailing crisis in the state and involve themselves activity in the struggles that the poor are waging for their liberation form the fears of hunger, proverty, injustice, exploitation and unemployment.

The New Year Day is an opportunity for the Church to search for new ways and means to witness to the transforming and regenerating power of our Lord by life and giving up old ways of doing things which often brought us bitterness and unhealthy rivalry disrupting the unity and fellowship in the Church and society.

The New Year’s Day celebrations challenge the Church to undertake new initiatives and new ventures towards becoming truly dignified daughters and sons of the social and self-reliant and more effective citizens by realizing the dignity of labours to be instruments for the extension of the Kingdom of God.

The ‘really New’ happened when Christ was born in Bethlehem over two thousand years ago. If we believe in the light of Bethlehem, we also become new because newness is not the New Year, New month, New day, New dress, New car, New house etc which are not the matter but the change of attitude, change of action and character, change of mindset and new perspective for a better and repented new life that matters.

When this happens, this new year will not be a repetition of the last year or another one is the endless cyclical succession of years, but it will hold out the hope of a new birth in Jesus Christ who alone gives us the new birth and new life as the Bible says in 2 Corinthians 5:17 – “If anyone is in Christ he is a new Creation; the old has passed away, behold the new has come!”

* Rev L Simon Raomai wrote this article for The Sangai Express
The writer is the Pastor, MBC Centre Church Imphal
This article was webcasted on January 04, 2019.

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