Happy New Year! Will we ever leave the previous year behind with greater relief? What a year it has been! For the foreseeable future, all one will have to do is say “2020” to conjure up all sorts of distressing thoughts.
As Christians, we certainly do not enter the New Year only with thoughts of relief from the past. On the contrary, we have so much to be thankful for and we have so much to look forward to! The celebration of our Lord’s birth is not far behind us. The celebration of our Savior’s coming to us as a baby to live for us, work for us, sacrifice for us and redeem us never gets old. We are still bathing in the aftermath of the glory of that celebration. And the knowledge that He will come again creates an anticipation in us that never fades. We are always looking forward — eagerly. We are always praying, “Come, Lord Jesus.”
So during this New Year, we look forward. We do not know all that God has prepared for us but we do know that “for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose” (Rom. 8:28 ESV). So we go forward with confidence in the knowledge that our Good Shepherd cares for His sheep and that we, therefore, do not need to be afraid. Far from it, we live in anticipation of what God has prepared for us. Indeed, we know that He will not only provide for our needs here and now, but that our Lord Jesus has gone to prepare a place for us so that where He is, we too, may be.
This message of how our Lord provides and will provide is essential not only for those to whom we minister. It is essential for us as well. We have the same needs as others. We sin, we fail and we stumble in uncertainty when confronted with challenges and problems. Thus, we need comfort, forgiveness and guidance. All that we are called upon to provide to others — we ourselves need!
In his first epistle to the Corinthians, after he had built up their hope with the assurance of the Resurrection, Paul encourage them with these words: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58 ESV).
He encourages us with the same words. “Your labor is not in vain.” With that assurance we enter the New Year. Our Lord has already prepared the work we are to do for Him and our labor will not be in vain. He promises it. And we take Him at His word with great joy and go forward in confidence.
May our gracious Father in Heaven bless all your efforts during this coming year that His name may be hallowed, His will may be done and His kingdom may come. God grant it for Jesus’ sake.
Thank you for your prayers and thank you for your support in whatever form it is given. We continue committed to the same mission that motivated us last year and that we will seek to fulfill until our Lord returns. “Concordia Seminary, St. Louis serves church and world by providing theological education and leadership centered in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ for the formation of pastors, missionaries, deaconesses scholars, and leaders in the name of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”
Happy New Year!
Sincerely in Christ,
Dr. Daniel Preus, Interim President
Concordia Seminary, St. Louis