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A blessed New Year to all! Every New Year brings reflection on the year past and the year ahead. For some, New Year’s resolutions are a punchline, grounded in seasonal optimism and forgotten about in a matter of days or weeks. For others, New Year’s resolutions are serious attempts to take inventory and set personal goals. New beginnings for a new year!

A recent poll revealed that while many people resolved to make the same old New Year’s resolutions (saving more money, getting in shape, eating better, etc.) many others admitted that they didn’t have one! Why? They knew that that after January or February those resolutions would be a thing of the past! “What’s the use,” seemed to be the mood!

Do we ever think that way? Does our reflection lead us to throw up our hands and say, “what’s the use?” Of course, we don’t need the New Year to reflect on our lives and potential growth areas. And yet, as we daily wrestle with our old sinful nature, we may be tempted at times to give up and throw in the towel. And of course, the evil foe is always at work, pointing his finger at us, rubbing our nose in all of our failures so that we would fall into despair and hopelessness or, worse yet, question our standing and our relationship before God.

A famous story claims that when Martin Luther was despairing and overwhelmed by the challenges of life and the devil’s torments, he would write in the dust on the table “I am baptized.” It was his reminder that no matter what the day might bring, tomorrow was always God’s gift to him, whether here or in eternity.

In the Small Catechism, Dr. Luther suggests that when we get up in the morning and wash our face, we should remember our baptism by making the sign of the holy cross and saying "In the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen."

The Lutheran Service Book, published in 2006, encourages the people of God to make the sign of the cross at the beginning of worship in remembrance of their baptism.

Reflecting upon our baptism, our new beginning in Christ, gives us the opportunity to have a fresh start, a new beginning everyday! When you begin each new day this new year, do it by making the sign of the cross and remembering your baptism, remembering that you are God’s child. Your sins of the past are forgiven, forgotten and lost in the sea of Baptism’s grace! You can begin anew with a fresh start!

Does this mean that tomorrow will bring no trials or struggles? Of course not! One particular tomorrow brought the cross for Jesus! And we have our own crosses to bear. But it does mean that we move forward marked with the name of Christ as God’s very own. And there is no better way to begin each day and even this New Year!

Rev. Shawn Nettleton is Senior Pastor at Saint John’s Lutheran Church. You can reach him in the church office, by email at or at 970-305-2420.