People are typically happy to see the old year go and the new one arrive and that’s been particularly true these past two years of COVID-related bad news.

However, 2021 was a little better than 2020 and the Revs. Bill Hutto and Griffin Jones say 2022 will offer new chances to get out into the world and make a positive difference.

“The other day, I heard someone describe 2021 as one of the longest years, in a way like five years with all the weird stuff going on and people living in fear when they shouldn’t be because God is still in control,” said the Rev. Hutto, pastor of Sunset Heights Baptist Church. “It was the pandemic and some of the political stuff. It seems that right is wrong, wrong is right and up is down.

“We’re looking for opportunities to grow within ourselves and reach out to the community whether it’s family, friends or strangers and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Hutto said in late November that Sunset Heights Baptist had just welcomed a family from Arkansas to feed them and help them settle into Odessa and get work after they had moved here in a leap of faith to find a better life. “We could use a good year in the Permian Basin because most churches are down 30 to 50 percent in attendance, some 70,” he said.

“A lot of people have stayed home watching ministers on TV, but that’s not real church. As Hebrews 10:24-25 says, church is the people coming together. I’m not saying they can’t learn from watching TV, but they don’t get that interaction and become part of one another’s lives.”

The scripture says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

Hutto said he wasn’t big on making New Year’s resolutions, but he was making one this time. “Look on every day as a new day,” he said.

“If I messed up yesterday, I have a chance to start fresh and focus on others. People aren’t as afraid to go out and meet people face to face and do witnessing. Our of our church’s goals is to go to Music City Mall and share the good news. It’s a challenging time to be alive, but it is a good time.”

The Rev. Jones, retired pastor of CrossRoads Fellowship, was confident. “I believe in a God who is sovereign and loves his creation and I’m anticipating what Jesus promises in John 10:10, more life and a better life than I ever dreamed of,” he said.

“2021 was a year of transition and adjustment for Odessa and the whole nation. It has been a tough year, yet overall a lot of good things have happened. People began to feel like getting back to normal, traveling and enjoying things with a positive outlook.

“There has been a lingering anxiety, but I don’t think a Christ-follower should be driven by fear,” he said. “In my experience, we find peace, contentment and joy regardless of the circumstances.”

Jones said having God’s presence in one’s life generates optimism. “I believe in the good news of Jesus and I love to see that happen in people’s lives,” he said.

“We are happier and have better lives if we go to church, read the scriptures, have a relationship with Jesus and follow his teachings in faith.”