Sunday, January 01, 2017

A Brand New Start for 2017

Amongst our Christmas presents were tickets for my wife and me to see Paul Weller perform at one of the Teenage Cancer Trust concerts at the Royal Albert Hall. Roll on March. I’ve been a Weller fan ever since his days with The Jam, when I was a teenage mod. One of his songs, Brand New Start seems kind of appropriate for this time of year. It sounds like a set of New Year’s resolutions:
 
I'm gonna clear out my head
I'm gonna get myself straight
I know it's never too late
To make a brand new start
 
The track is an expression of confidence in human ability to turn our lives around. Weller even sings of his desire to “build a heaven on the ground”, which seems a tad ambitious given the state of the world. There have been many attempts  to create a perfect world over the course of history. But man made utopias have been doomed to failure. There is something stubbornly self-destructive about human nature that resists all attempts to create heaven on earth.
 
How many of us manage to keep our more modest New Year’s resolutions? Will we still be off the chocolate, working out at the gym, or whatever it is come February, March, April? While full of good intentions with our ‘brand new starts’ it’s often a matter of, ‘same old, same old’ as the months roll by.
 
For all his determination to make a fresh start in life, Weller realises that some things are beyond his grasp,
 
There's somewhere else I should be
There's someone else I can't see
There's something more I can find
There's only love to me
 
The things that we long for most deeply often seem elusive. Jesus once had a conversation with a very religious man who seemed to have everything up together and sorted. But it was not enough. Jesus told him, “unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3). But how is that supposed to happen? My favourite Christmas carol, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing says of Jesus that he was “born to save the sons of earth/born to give them second birth”. 

Jesus is God’s way of giving us a brand new start. 

*For Trinity Dilton Marsh parish magazine 

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