A couple days ago someone said to me in greeting, “Happy New Year!” For a moment I thought to myself, wait a second, New Years Day was weeks ago, can you still say, “Happy New Year?” But, why not? Too much is focused on that first second of time that happens January 1st. There are an almost infinite number of moments between now and the last tick of the clock on Dec. 31st, and each one is filled with the same possibility for celebration and newness.
So, as January comes to an end, don’t stop thinking about all the new moments that await you throughout this year. God puts an eternity before us and we have to be careful about how narrow our perspective is at times. This is why John Wesley, the founder of the United Methodist Church, in 1747 wrote in his Journal how he had, “urged the wholly giving up ourselves to God and renewing in every point our covenant that the Lord should be our God.” Resolutions come and go, may succeed or fail, but we can trust that the offer of renewal from God will always be there for us.
As many of you know, Sarah and I just got back from five days in Puerto Rico. When we were there they were just taking down the decorations from Three Kings Day (Dia de Los Tres Reyes Magos), which is in a way a bigger day than Christmas there. On Three Kings Day (which we know as Epiphany) the Magi’s visit to the baby Jesus is remembered and celebrated. It is a focus on not only the gifts the Magi brought, but the gifts we bring to God through our life. For churches in Puerto Rico (see the photo of me next to the Iglesia do Metodista in San Juan) the focus is on starting the year thinking of giving, and not just receiving. It is a festival to celebrate the blessings of our life and the gifts we have to share.
On January 1st, February 1st, and every other day of the year, we need to remember and hold onto that covenant of unconditional love and amazing grace which reaches us no matter who we are, where we are or what we’ve done. What a gift that has been shared with us and what opportunities we have to share God’s love with others.
During January many of us find ourselves wondering about the year ahead, what it will bring us and how our life will be changed by it? This new year, turn this type of thinking around and think instead of what we, with God’s help, will bring to the year and how we will change our years ahead. May our plans and hopes be filled with the power and love of God as we begin the journey that awaits us, both as individuals and as a community. Trust in the power of renewal God offers to you, press on to the possibilities that await in the year ahead, and know the gospel truth that through your successes and failures, joys and challenges, God is always with you.
See you in church.