Happy New Year!

Did you observe New Year’s Eve traditions as 2018 came to a close and 2019 began?  Did you do something special to mark the changing of the calendar?  Go out to eat?  Party with family and friends?  Watch movies?  Take the Polar Bear Plunge?  Stay at home and quietly welcome the New Year?

As a kid, our family always went out to eat early with our neighbors, after which one of the families would host an evening of Sheepshead playing and “lunch” after midnight.  When I was old enough, New Year’s Eve was all about babysitting—and contemplating.

Back in the day, before there was cable, TV stations went off the air after 2 or 3 in the morning.  I wasn’t a babysitter who liked to sleep while caring for the kids, so when parents didn’t come home before the TV went off the air, I had a lot of time to do some ruminating about the previous year—its highs and lows—and then think about the ways the next twelve months might bring about improvement, growth, blessing for everything from my family to school to the world. . . .

And while TV stations don’t go off the air any longer, on New Year’s Eve, I still find myself ruminating on the year past, Christ’s call to his followers, and the way this coming year might help salve the wounds that all of us, living on this terrestrial ball, suffer.

I confess that the task of being an agent of change for Christ seems a monumental one.  After all, you don’t have to look long and hard to find problems so large and so complex that it seems next to impossible to address any one of them in a way that brings about any evidence of Christ’s Kingdom being built here on earth.  How can any one of us help slow the tensions between countries in the Middle East?  How can any one of us lend a hand to solving the problem of poverty, food insecurity, homelessness?  What can any one of us do to eliminate the hatred of others that resides in the hearts of many, and is expressed openly in an increasing number of instances?  These are tasks that seem hopeless at worst—a bit Don Quixotic at best.

While cogitating on answers to these questions, I ran across this quote in a posting on Clergy Coaching Network’s Facebook page, that offered a new line of attack on being an agent of change for Christ.  Written by Sheri Eckhart, it reads,

Beginning anew.  “Be that one.  That one who forgives when deep offense has been committed.  That one who loves when no one else does.  That one who gives kindness to those who are mean.  Be that who looks past the insult, instead seeing the pain that motivated it.  That one who shines light on those who sit in utter darkness.  Because the impact of being that one runs far and wide.  It brings healing to the wounded, joy to the sad, and hope to those in despair.  Be that one.”

THAT’S IT!  We have the blessing and opportunity to bring about change for Christ’s sake by living as Christ called each of us to live.  That’s what will change the world!  Christ can and will take care of the broad sweeping changes our world needs, if we but plant the tiny seeds of self-less love, forgiveness, compassion in our families, our communities, this church and beyond.  That has to be the way to heal the hurts and divisions, the hatred, suspicions and fears.  A more ardent pursuit of our relationship with and devotion to Christ that results in action that reveals Christ to others.

In this New Year, may we all aspire to take additional steps toward living the life exemplified by Christ.  May we ask him for the strength to live in love and faith, especially at those moments when we want to lash out, turn away or expand the gulf between one another.  May we fan the flames of Christ’s love that reside in our hearts, so others might be touched and led by his Light.  Because if we do, I know it will truly be one Happy New Year!

-Pastor Sharon