News from the Tennessee Valley Religion
SATURDAY, JANUARY 1, 2005
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Rev. Willie Byrd

Find a new beginning with Christ

Once more, the celebration of a New Year is before us.

It is a time when people around the world can feel good about having the chance to turn a new page.

The beginning of a new year offers a time of new opportunities and a fresh start.

Those who throughout the year struggled with crises and setbacks can press forward to new beginnings. The year of 2004 had disappointments for many. Those who faced hardships of economic and social paralysis can feel excited to start anew. As the saying goes, "Out with the old, and in with the new."

Also at each New Year, some people seek to break old habits and to lay aside old ways. The idea of this kind of thinking is to bring about positive and creative behavior in the year to come, causing one to be focused and purpose-driven with enthusiasm and optimism.

A new beginning with a spiritual application is knowing that, in spite of one's wrongdoing and shortcoming, Jesus stretches out arms of forgiveness, offering another chance, a fresh start.

There is a story about a young boy who was born paralyzed. He could only sit and watch as other children played in the yard. For 18 years, he felt the pain of rejection due to his condition. The boy, Danny, struggled with feeling that life had been unfair to him. One Sunday morning, Danny and his mother were in church. The preacher's sermon was from II Corinthians, when Paul said if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature and old things are passed away. "Behold all things are become new," verse 18 says.

Danny received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Coming home from church, Danny's mother explained that one day in heaven, he will have a new beginning. He will have no more pain or sorrow or woe. He will be able to run and not grow weary and walk without anyone's help. She told him that his new beginning would always be joyful and pleasant.

Danny turned to his mother and, for once, released an abundance of tears. The news he received that day was all he needed to press on in life. He began forgetting about his condition and began looking forward to every tomorrow.

Like Danny, to move into a new beginning we must forget the things of yesterday, letting go and pressing forward to new and better things. 2004 has passed and 2005 is a gift from heaven. Learn to give thanks and to take one day at a time.

Happy New Year!

The Rev. Willie Byrd, pastor of Grace Missionary Baptist Church in Athens, is one of several local ministers writing religion columns for THE DAILY. For more information, call Melanie Smith on Tuesdays or Wednesdays at 340-2468.

Rev. Willie Byrd Rev. Willie Byrd

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