Dear Emmanuel and SouthWest,
As this year draws to a close we remember 2018 in which there have been joys, sorrows, growth, learnings and many challenges. There are memories we would rather forget and others we will treasure. We have lived a myriad of emotions, both tender and pain-filled, and journeyed through changes as brothers and sisters of Jesus.
In my youth there was a church tradition of a New Year’s Watchnight service organized so that at midnight we were gathered around the communion table. Prayer, hymns, testimonies and quiet time were always part of this service; I found it a precious experience.
It is my hope that you will find a quiet reflective moment at the beginning of 2019. One of your resolutions may be about the reading of the Bible. Personally I have grown in faith through the regular reading and meditation of the scriptures. Apart from our public worship there is a more personal worship experience that includes two essential daily disciplines: prayer and Bible reading.
Some helpful scriptures for a New Year’s reflection are:
Psalm 23, 90, 126, Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8, Matthew 5: 3-12 (and the verses following that are the Sermon on the Mount.)
The Bible Society offers us a gift: readings from the Bible for everyday, based on the Sunday Lectionary Readings. They are available online in English and French
(https://biblesociety.ca/resources/for-you/daily-bible-reading/) or in paper version at the (Mission) Church.
I am on vacation from January 14 to February 14 and travelling in Peru. I will hold you everyday in my heart and prayers as you hold me in yours.
A blessed New Year,
Go into this New Year: dance, laugh, sing, and create,
risk, explore, discover, and love.
believe, hope, struggle, and remember:
We go with the assurance of your love, O God.
Thanks be to God!
New Year Prayers:
Holy God, as we enter this new year,
we thank you for your presence with us
in all the years of our lives.
We have known joy, and also sorrow,
success and failure,
and through it all, you have been with us—
the companion of all our journeys.
Much of life is fleeting
and so we thank you for things that endure:
the love of faithful friends,
wisdom gained from experience,
the reliability of nature,
and your steadfast love.
We thank you for this new year which awaits us;
take us by the hand, and lead us on.
presider over the affairs of persons and nations,
move us to thanksgiving,
not because of what we have, but because of whose we are;
not because of present blessing,
but because of your continuing providence;
not because of the moment,
but because of the eternity of salvation.
Let our thanksgiving be expressed
not only in feasting, but in sharing;
not only in passive enjoyment, but in active service;
not only in annual observance, but in daily attitude.
And because your concern for wholesome living
embraces every person upon the earth,
we pray for ourselves and for others (our personal and world requests). . .
In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
- Taken from Celebrate God’s Presence, United Church of Canada