omeday this text will be read especially for me, for it is a part of our funeral ritual. Its about "making all things new." Is it not just like us Christians to stand over a corpse and read about "New Things"? We live and die as a people who will live forever new.
I think a lot about my Dad. I have some of his special things. This mechanical pencil; he lost the matching Parker 51 fountain pen that the mayor presented to him for his years as a volunteer hospital chaplain, in his retirement. I found a replacement fountain pen. Maybe its his that was found and resold in the flea market. But its my new pen. I preach with my Dads last watch. Its easy to read and I need it when I glance at the time, and arent you glad it accurate. During Christmas I especially needed it when the big timer in the back of the Sanctuary was replaced with a Christmas wreath.
When I think of new life beyond this life, I think of Dad. I know he lives. Its faith, but its more now for I have a deep assurance about that new life that awaits all who believe. I hope you share that experience. In our text Jesus Christ said from the very throne of God, "...behold, I make all things new." (v.5). Thats a promise!
Another new thing we have is a New Year; 1998. Ive found it simple to turn my last digit "7" into an "8", for I always write in the incorrect number on checks, for several weeks into the new year. But the fact is, whether I write it right or not it is absolutely a new year.
I thumbed through some of my old new years sermons this week--- Im a better preacher than I was, and if I keep improving by retirement time Ill be up to the ordinary. Anyway, I always seemed to relate new years Sunday to the experience of new life. I must have thought that folks would make a kind of new years resolution to get religious. However, the years have come and gone and really think that very few have opted to tie the new year into a new life--- but is it not a great idea? "New Life for the New Year" the young preacher expounded. "Our Need for a New Beginning" was the title of three of his sermons. "The Explosive Power of a New Affection:" I was referring to an affection for God, of course. Who knows, maybe along the way some sinner repented and received new life--- I sure hope so. For you see, thats the point of the whole thing we uphold as the Christian religion. Its about the fact that nothing you can do can exclude you from a new beginning, if you sincerely will give your sinful and broken heart to the Lord. He can make you new!
This old pen from the year I was born, was filthy and clogged up with dry ink when I found it in the flea market no good worn out box. But, I redeemed it, I reclaimed it, I washed it and made it shine with polish, I put a new heart into its insides, and then put fresh new ink in its new heart (ink sack) and made it a new pen. Its the same old pen, but its new.
The redeeming blood of Jesus Christ can make you new too! He can wash you and make you "white as snow." He can "turn your heart of stone into a heart of flesh." Hell even "give you a new name, and write it down in the Lambs Book of Eternal Life." A new name! What an explosive idea. Ive even picked mine out--- Winston Savage. Thats a great name, isnt it! When we meet in heaven, just call me Winston. Yet, come to think of it, Id better try to keep my regular name, Winston Savage was a pseudonym I selected to use at Myrtle Beach as a high school senior trying to pick up girls. It didnt work well at all--- all I picked up was a bad nick name. But, you see, the Captain of the famous Asheboro Blue Comets football team had to shield his identity ;-)).
Arent you glad that before you got to know me, Christs redeeming love made me by his power "into a new creature : old things have passed away and behold all things have become new." (2 Cor. 5:17).
New Life in Christ is not just pie in the sky, bye and bye--- as precious as that concept is when you yourself face the death of a loved one. Yet, this New Life in Christ is a present reality. Him who created a new heaven and a new earth, can certainly create a new you. Clean and fresh and ready to take on the making of a new world. No wonder John Wesley is quoted as saying, "Give me 200 preachers on fire for Christ and I can turn the world upside down for Him." Today, we have thousands and thousands of Methodist preachers and we have not turned the world upside down--- maybe we lack the "on fire for Christ" part of Mr. Wesleys bold statement.
We read in yesterdays "AJC, Faith & Values" section of the newspaper how there are so many Christian groups who have set as a target the reaching of the entire world with the transforming message of new life in Christ, by the year 2000. What a noble goal, and it can be done for, "all things are possible with God." However, it will never happen apart from the "on fire for Christ" element in John Wesleys statement of 250 years ago.
I suppose our down to home question ought to be, what will we do to reach the corner of the world where we are situated. What friend, relative, associate, or neighbor could you possibly reach with the gospel if you could catch fire with your enthusiasm, witness and your life as a reflection of Christ in you?
Ransom was a simple man, uneducated, and hard working. But at the mourners bench he opened his heart to receive all of Gods love--- and he became a worthy vessel. Along the way he received a little education, but he never let it dampen the fire that the Lord has set ablaze in his heart. My, could he preach! And my, could he live! When he would come stay with us in my Daddys parsonage, he would find our shoes and shine them. He claimed that he just loved to shine shoes, but I think he knew what a powerful witness that was in a young boys life. Thats the New Thing that God gave Ransom, and me.
a sermon synopsis
by C. Robert Allred, Th.D., Pastor