Your Fresh Beginning
By: Noelle Kirchner
“Come now, let us settle the matter," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” —Isaiah 1:18
There is a range of responses to snow in my house. My children react to it with jubilation: “Mom, has school been canceled because of snow today?” They wonder if they’ll be able to sled or make snow ice cream. My husband wonders if he will have to shovel to get to his morning train on time. And me—I like to look at it.
Have you noticed how quiet the snow falls when there’s little wind? It’s like the whole world is muted while everything moves in slow motion. It’s peaceful. What’s more, I love to see a fresh blanket of snow that’s without a footprint. It feels like my familiar surroundings get a new beginning. The old is erased—literally completely covered over—and there’s an open invitation for something new.
The image of a new beginning is why snow is a powerful metaphor for God’s forgiveness. Our scripture passage represents this new beginning by describing sins that are red as scarlet becoming as white as snow or wool. The glaring presence of sin is effectively erased. This transformation, illustrating forgiveness, comes at a price. It’s only possible if the people do their part and repent.
The beginning of Isaiah’s first chapter is set in a courtroom with the Lord as the plaintiff. The people’s sins are so egregious that Isaiah references the evil Old Testament towns of Sodom and Gomorrah (1:10). The Lord will drop his case and the people will avoid punishment, however, if they amend their ways. Thus, our passage contains both promise and warning.
That tension between promise and warning represents not only the power of God but the importance of our action as his people. Any transformation is a dance, a two-partner process. While God alone accomplishes our salvation through Jesus Christ, he beckons us to receive his grace with humility through confession and change.
Imagine that God is offering you a new beginning right now. The road ahead of you is covered with a blanket of snow, and you get to choose the footprints. Will you meet our Lord and allow him to wash you clean? Do you long for change and his strength to embrace fresh possibility?
The calendar affords us a time to think about new beginnings each year in January. It’s important to have a regular pattern as a society to examine the past, inspire hope for the future, and enact necessary change. We call those changes New Year’s resolutions. As followers of Christ, however, we are blessed with the opportunity for a fresh start any time of year.
There are many reasons why we might want one. Do you want to reshape how you handle anger? Do you want to break free from an addiction? Do you want to initiate healthier relationships, draw closer to God, or better care for your body—God’s temple? God is offering you a new beginning, without a footprint, today.
Jeremiah 29:11 reads, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” A hope-filled future is a sure sign of God’s blessing. Begin the dance of transformation with God—receive its gift and embrace change and possibility. Who knows just how God might use it!
Rev. Noelle Kirchner, MDiv., believes we don’t have to live with full schedules and thin souls. A busy mom of three boys, she is passionate about making faith fresh and relevant. Noelle is a graduate of Princeton Seminary and an ordained Presbyterian minister who has served in churches for over ten years. She has written for places like the TODAY Show Parenting Team, Huff Post Parents, The Laundry Moms, and (in)courage. Her faith and family cable television show, Chaos to Calm, features parenting hot topics and has hosted two New York Times bestselling authors. Watch her episodes or sermons, connect with her on social media, and follow her blog by visiting her website, or receive her free devotional e-book.
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Originally published Friday, 30 December 2022.