2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! (NIV)
1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)
It was the week before Christmas. Calgary, Alberta, Canada, had just become our new home and we were excited about going Christmas tree shopping. The first Christmas tree lot that we visited was a great disappointment, as the trees resembled spindly sticks with the odd evergreen branch sticking out here and there. With a "huh!" we shook our heads and moved on. The next lot was just as bad, and by the time we found a third lot with the very same type of sad-looking trees, realization began to dawn.
Gone were the lush spruce and pines of our previous province. The picture-perfect trees of our past were exactly that: past. This was the present, and seeing as we really wanted a live Christmas tree we needed to make a choice. Thus after much sorting and humming and hawing, we finally chose a sorry-looking specimen, although the proprietor assured us that we had chosen one of his best trees!
I grumbled and complained all the way home. I felt discouraged and homesick as we dragged out the Christmas ornaments and worked to discover how to best decorate such a tree.
Finally the bulbs were all hung, the lights strung, the garlands wound, and the tinsel tossed. Stepping back we flipped the switch, and, not only did that poor little tree light up, but so did we. For our little tree had been transformed into a brand new creation!
Likewise, for those who come to a saving faith through Jesus Christ, the old has gone and the new has come. The babe born in a manger came not because we were already beautiful, perfect people, but because we weren't. He came because we could never hope to be anything more than spindly sticks, despite God's original intention for us, apart from the transforming love of Jesus. His love makes us a new creation, a holy people, reconciled to God. The old has gone; the new has come.
Prayer Wonderful Father and gracious God, we thank you for the gift of Jesus, who came with love that can transform all who willingly embrace Him with childlike faith. Lord Jesus, open our hearts anew this Christmas, and help us to remember that we are indeed a holy people, reconciled to you, so that we in turn might be ministers of reconciliation within our world. In Christ's name. Amen.