“To the American People: Christmas is not a time or a season but a state of mind. To cherish peace and good will, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas. If we think on these things, there will be born in us a Savior and over us will shine a star sending its gleam of hope to the world.”
– Calvin Coolidge
Happy new year! What a wonderful time to dream about what 2014 will be like, make new year’s resolutions, and seek to do all those things we keep putting off. . . . Ok, I can’t do this. I can’t do yet another “happy new year” newsletter article full of all sorts of bubbly thoughts about “new beginnings” and resolutions I know darn well I won’t keep or fulfill. I would love to lose weight, be a better husband or dad, study more, read more, etc., etc., etc. Reality has proved, despite my best intentions, that I am who I am, and I am evolving much slower than I would often like. But I believe I am still becoming a better me than I could have imagined, thanks to a God who continues to surprise me, frighten me, challenge me, and love me through the grace and sometimes challenge of other people in my life doing and experiencing the same things in different ways. Sometimes, looking at myself in the mirror and wishing I had Brad Pitt’s body, fame, influence, etc., is not necessarily the best thing for me (nor is it realistic since I’m sure “working out” and having that body is part of his job, thus gym time is also “office time,” and not a part of mine).
So, in this season of new beginnings, and yet another year in which I anticipate all sorts of deadlines, appointments, meetings, and lengthy “to-do” lists that never seem to shrink, I resolve to do the only thing I can: be as faithful as I am able and seek to continue to grow deeper in my faith walk with God, as I seem to have been doing (intentionally or unintentionally, at times better or worse than at other times) for the past 40 or so years.
A new year is a fresh opportunity, but no more than a new day or even each new hour or minute of our lives. I cannot promise what 2014 will bring for you or me, but I can promise that God will be as present as our own breath, and as much a part of us as the hearts that beat within our chests. Another season simply brings another opportunity for us to practice paying attention to what God is doing and how God is present to and for us, those around us, and all creation.
There you have it. A simple message for the new year. That’s it. May God’s blessings richly fill you with the knowledge and experience of the love of God revealed through Christ Jesus both now and into 2014 and beyond.