Where were you at 11:55am on New Year’s Eve 2016, and who were you with? Perhaps far from home with people you love and care about, or alone in your own home or apartment. Like many, my family enjoyed watching the ball drop in New York City via “tape delayed broadcast”. If you own a digital video recorder, you can do the same thing - watch a program that was live on the East coast at a later scheduled time. When we watch a tape delayed broadcast we’re bringing the past into the present. We’re experiencing something that has already happened as though it was happening right now. Of course, it helped that all those New Yorkers cared about celebrating New Year’s just like we did. We watched because we could relate to their experience, and in fact their experience increased the enjoyment of our own.
The Bible is a very special kind of “delayed broadcast” and as we pass into this new year, it will once again be inviting us into its world even as we hear it speak to us so relevantly about our own. Take Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, which we will be studying this Winter in small groups. Corinth was a major urban center, a crossroads of cultures and religions, a center of commerce and vice, and a major sports mecca. There is much of Corinth that we can relate to here in Los Angeles. In this letter Paul addresses the challenges of sharing life within a diverse and sometimes divided church community, and of bearing witness to Christ in the midst of a culture that is at times friendly and at other times antagonistic to the gospel message. Like watching the ball drop in NYC here in the west, there will be much that reminds us of our own time and place.
For similar reasons, I want to also invite you to consider the new Alpha Film Series, premiering on Tuesday January 10th, a practical introduction to the Christian faith which brings the message of Christ alive for anyone desiring to know more about Jesus and his remarkable movement. Through multi-media and small group discussion, you will find that Jesus’ words and ways continue to have contemporary relevance and life-changing power. Please invite a friend or family member to accompany you to the Sneak Preview, beginning at 7:00pm. A call to the office this week, indicating your interest, would be very helpful as we plan.
Meanwhile, I pray that the promise of this new year would go far beyond a nostalgic countdown on New Year’s Eve, and that Jesus himself – whose message is broadcast by all means to this day – would renew and recharge us with his grace and truth.