We all enjoy something new. A new restaurant opens and we want to eat there. A new movie premieres and we want to see it. Your alma mater hires a new coach and you want to see how the team does in its first game under the new coach. And who doesn’t like the smell of a new car or the feel of a new suit?

January allows us to experience the new. We mark our days in such a way that January begins a new year—2012 takes the place of 2011 on our checks. We resolve to eat less, exercise more, be kinder and tithe. Actually, most people don’t resolve to do the last one, but I wanted to drop the hint.

Each January I get excited when I think about new people and events at River Road Church, Baptist. Our church calendar is filling already.

In January, for example, Dr. Bob Gallagher will present an organ concert as part of our concert series. In February the choir from Washington and Lee University will perform, and in March we will host the 70-voice Baylor University Choir for a Saturday evening concert, and they will sing the next morning at our worship service.

Our church will host a women’s retreat in March. In April the Friendship Sunday School class will celebrate its 50th anniversary. That month we also will host 200 to 300 people for a regional meeting of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of Virginia.

During the year I anticipate we will welcome more than one new staff member to fill our staff vacancies. Who God will lead to us, and us to them, is one of those many discoveries all of us make as we move into a future we cannot know or predict in advance.

Frances Havergal spent much of her 43 years in frail health. Despite her limitations, she wrote numerous hymn texts, such as “I Gave My Life For Thee,” “Like a River Glorious,” “Lord, Speak to Me That I May Speak,” and “Take My Life and Let It Be.”

She captures my prayer for our congregation at the dawning of this new year:

 Another year is dawning,
Dear Father, let it be,
In working or in waiting,
Another year with Thee;
Another year of progress,
Another year of praise,
Another year of proving
Thy presence all the days.


Originally published in January 2012 in the Explorer.