“The light shines on in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 5) I love the confident note of hope this verse sounds. On the one hand, it is the declaration of a state of fact: light is stronger than darkness. At the same time, it is also a promise: even when it seems otherwise – and even the briefest scan of the headlines can make it seem otherwise – yet the light continues to shine and the darkness has neither overcome nor understood it …
My New Year’s prayer for all of us is that although Christmas is over, we will live a Christmas life, so that the light might continue shining on in even the darkest of places. Howard Thurman’s wonderful poem on your bulletin covers, “The Work of Christmas,” is a perfect accompaniment to John’s Prologue:
When the song of the angels is stilled,
when the star in the sky is gone,
when the kings and princes are home,
when the shepherds are back with their flocks,
the work of Christmas begins:
to find the lost,
to heal the broken,
to feed the hungry,
to release the prisoner,
to rebuild the nations,
to bring peace among the people,
to make music in the heart.
— Howard Thurman from The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations
This year I am not setting new year’s goals or working on a set of resolutions. Such things are made only to be broken. Instead I am hoping to establish a few new habits that I hope will stick with me throughout the year. I thought you might like to join me.
- Begin with gratitude. Part of my Sabbath discipline for many years has been asking myself “what are you grateful for”. However I have realized that there is a big difference between looking back with gratefulness and entering the day with an attitude of gratitude. Recognizing that each new day is a unique gift from God is something that should have us giving thanks continually. Deliberately looking with gratitude at each moment and learning to savour everything from the rain shrouded dawn of a winter’s day to the laughter of a friend as a gift from God, can be life transforming.
- Focus on hope. We journey towards a hope filled future, a future in which all things will be transformed by our loving God into wholeness and newness. Yet we rarely express that. For me, it is easier to live in the presence of negativity, to see the clouds and not the sun. To live as children of hope and faith is an intentional decision that we can make each day.
- Celebrate with joy. We need to live with less goals and more celebration. Goals restrict us. They can make us feel that success and fulfillment are always a little beyond our grasp. They often set us up for failure. A friend on mine told me years ago that she always begins her prayer time by looking for the “joy spots”, asking herself where is God already at work and how can I join in? Intentionally looking for the hope giving, joy filled activity of God that is already present in every moment and every event, is inspiring and changes our whole attitude towards life.
- A New Year’s Prayer
- Questions That Have No Right to Go Away
- Every Moment Is A New Beginning
- Prayer for the Strength & Courage to Change
- Daily Meditation – Online Resources, Books and Kindle eBooks