What a Year!

It’s finally here. The last day of 2020. And what a year it’s been – overwhelming, taxing and frightening! 

When I look back, I see a year of heartache. A year – or at least 10 months – of massive disruption because of the COVID pandemic. A year in which the sin of racism has so clearly been made evident, as well as our nation’s struggle to deal with it. A year of polarization that still tears our nation apart and threatens our future. A year in which congregations and pastors have faced existential threats because they can no longer do church the way they’ve always done church.  

Yet when I look back, I also see the Holy Spirit at work. The Holy Spirit helping people discover how much we are connected and really need each. The Holy Spirit pricking the conscience of our nation to help us begin the long journey to dismantle racism and build reconciliation. The Holy Spirit nudging people who disagree about almost everything to join hands to feed the hungry and help those struggling just to survive. The Holy Spirit sparking creativity in churches that will enable them to proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior more faithfully and powerfully than ever before. 

There is no way to avoid the fact that when I look back at 2020 I see disruption, sin, polarization and threats. But more importantly, I also see all the ways the Holy Spirit has been entering into the midst of this mess to plant seeds of hope, transformation, compassion and revival. So while I will look realistically at life, including my own, I choose to focus on the new life springing forth because of what the Holy Spirit is doing. And I pray that you will as well, so that a year from now at the end of 2021, you and I can proclaim together, “What a year!”

Hopelessly and Hopefully Human

You are a complicated creature. On the one hand, you are flesh and blood – so hopelessly human that you inevitably act in ways that disrupt your relationship with God, others and yourself. On the other hand, you are created gloriously in the image of God – so hopefully human that God’s only Son, Jesus, came to live and die so you can be forgiven, redeemed and transformed. Yes, you are both hopeless and hopeful. But what matters more is that Jesus  turns you into someone God has always hoped for. 

Simple Things

Thank God for your blessings. Pray for someone who is struggling. Reach out to a person in need. Speak out about God’s deep desire for justice. Hug a family member. Tell someone about Jesus. Walk in solitude. Dwell in Scripture. Share your soul with someone you love. These are simple things, to be sure. But they matter most in life. And when you do them as much as you can as often as you can, your life will become richer, deeper and more meaningful than you ever imagined possible. 

New Things

2020 has been a terrible year you can’t wait to put in the rearview mirror. That’s why Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 5:17 are so important, “So then, if anyone is in Christ, that person is part of the new creation. The old things have gone away, and look, new things have arrived!” Sure, it’s hard to believe this is possible when life still seems controlled by selfishness, pain, injustice, suffering and hopelessness. But that’s why Paul is so clear that you need Jesus. He’s the doorway that opens you to experiencing God, yourself, others and life in brand new ways. So run to Jesus’ embrace of grace as quickly as you can, and experience how old things are being swept away and new things are arriving.

A Sunday Prayer

Lord,

We are grateful in these days following Christmas that the Light has come into the world, is present now, and will shine even more brightly in Your future. 

We are awed this Light comes to us; illuminating Your grace, clearly showing us what needs to be transformed and lighting our way as we journey through life.  

We are thankful for the privilege of being called to let this Light shine through us into the lives of others – through words that proclaim it’s reality, arms that offer comfort, and acts the seek to bring Your justice to those who hunger, are victims of racism, experience oppression, struggle with substance abuse and live in a cloud of depression.

We pray this in the strong name of Jesus.

Amen.