Messiah: Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter of Zion

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Zechariah 9:9-10.

Happy New Year! This Sunday we hit the ground running in the Church/Liturgical Calendar  by celebrating Epiphany – the arrival of the Magi from the East to present gifts to the Christ Child.

Many folks take time before the New Year to set resolutions. I have not had much success with resolutions – I resolved to learn how to operate a curling iron a few years ago and that still has not happened. However, in the spirit of running into the church/liturgical calendar, I set 17 goals that I would like to hit the ground running with and accomplish in 2017:

  1. Begin each day with intentional prayer and devotional time with God.
  2. Complete 2017 sun salutations – that is six each day.
  3. Ride 2017 miles on my bike.
  4. Take (a minimum) of three yoga classes each week.
  5. Read 2017 pages for pleasure and 2017 pages for professional development.
  6. Cook 17 new recipes with Andrew.
  7. Drink 64oz of water daily.
  8. Live simply so that I can give more.
  9. Keep my weekly commitments to self-care, Sabbath, and date days.
  10. Put my phone away one hour before going to sleep.
  11. Keep a daily gratitude journal, recording three actions/experiences/learnings for which I am grateful each day.
  12. Make the first move in connecting with family and friends.
  13. Be bold in asking for help.
  14. Talk less; listen more.
  15. Stay current with the news.
  16. Make my donation cut to Beautiful Lengths.
  17. In all things – situations, people, responsibilities – seek hope.

Three hundred and sixty five days sounds like an abundance of time…but lived…it seems to fly. I look forward to the joy I will experience and the lessons I will learn about myself and others as I pursue these goals in 2017. The pursuit and the accomplishing of these goals will be and is complete gift – a gift from God to me to be my best self to the glory of God on earth.

I am excited to worship with the Tuskawilla Family to begin 2017 on New Year’s Day. We will gather for Morningsong at 8:30am and our regular 11am service will again be at 10am this week. As you prepare for worship and the coming new year, perhaps consider any resolutions or goals that you would like to make. Together let’s hit the ground running and run the race that God has placed before us. Let us run with purpose and with excellence.

Prayer: “Creative God, you make all things new in heaven and on earth. We come to you in a new year with new desires and old fears, new decisions and old controversies, new dreams and old weaknesses. Because you are a God of hope, we know that you create all the possibilities of the future. Because you are a God of love, we know that you accept all the mistakes of the past. Because you are the God of our faith, we enter your gates with thanksgiving and praise, we come into your presence with gladness and a joyful noise, and we serve and bless you. Amen.”*

*”Prayer for New Year’s Eve or Day,” The United Methodist Book of Worship 294.

 

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For Such A Time As This

Sunday’s Scripture ~ Esther 4:1-17

Happy New Year Friends!  I pray your celebration of Christ’s birth was meaningful and included the company of loved ones.  Mine was.  I am truly blessed and thankful for my blessings each and every day.

Not only have we celebrated Christmas but we have welcomed the New Year.  And with the New Year comes thoughts about resolutions.

Have you made any?  Will you make any?

In 2013 I took up weekly practices of hot power yoga.  Now, this is not the 110 degree yoga – I do not have time for that! – this is the 85 degree yoga.  Trust me…that’s hot enough…especially in the classes with 55 of your closest friends in about 300 square feet of space.

I am continuing my weekly practices in this new year.  This past Thursday we began class with a few moments of meditation and our teacher – Taylor – asked the class if we had made any resolutions.  She then said that she does not make resolutions anymore because when she resolved something it hardly ever came into fruition.  Now she dedicates herself to a practice, an ideology, a service.  She invited us to make a dedication during our practice – to what would we dedicate ourselves?  A more patient practice?  To trust our strength?  To breathe into the discomfort rather than shy away from it?  To what would we dedicate ourselves?

For some reason the idea of dedicating seems more active to me than the idea of resolving – even though they are both verbs.  As I consider the act of dedicating versus the act of resolving in conversation with our Scripture text for this week, I feel that Esther  first resolved and then dedicated herself.  She resolved to make a decision – she would be the advocate for her people, for God’s people – and then she dedicated herself to the danger of defending her people, God’s people, before the Persian King by entering his presence without prior request.

The character of Esther takes the idea of a resolution to the next level; she moves it to the realm of dedication “for such a time as this.”

Have you made any resolutions?  Will you make any resolutions?  And how can you take those resolutions to the next level and move them into the realm of dedications?

Perhaps consider these statements as you marinate on potential resolutions and dedications (from a buzzfeed.com article):

1. What you will accomplish this year?

2. What you will let go of or release?

3. What or who you will embrace?

4. What or who you will honor?

5. What or who you will love?

6. What or who you will use your gifts to advocate on behalf of?

7. What you will share with the world?

Write them.  Share them.  Incarnate the dedications for such a time as this.

Prayer: “‘Are ye able,’ said the Master, ‘to be crucified with me?’ ‘Yea,’ the sturdy dreamers answered, ‘to the death we follow thee.’  Are ye able? Still the Master whispers down eternity, and heroic spirits answer, now as then in Galilee.  Lord we are bale.  Our spirits are thine.  Remold them, make us, like thee, divine.  Thy guiding radiance above us shall be a beacon to God, to love, and loyalty.”*  Amen.

*”Are Ye Able,” The United Methodist Hymnal, 530.

Almost 2013

Sunday’s Scriptures ~ John 1:1-18; Luke 2:25-32; Romans 13:11-12; II Corinthians 4:4-11; Ephesians 5:8-14; and I John 1:5-7.

Reading lots of Scripture – it’s a beautiful thing.

This week we turn our attention towards New Year.  We have celebrated Christmas, our houses are wrecks, our fridges are over-flowing with left-overs, college football bowl-season is in full swing, and people are beginning to make plans for the new year.

2013…

What will it hold?

What will I resolve to do this year?  What will I resolve to not do this year?

This Sunday’s service is based on a Watchnight Service, which is a service typically held on New Year’s Eve.  It begins late in the evening and typically concludes after the clock strikes *NEW YEAR*.

(Reeves will be having our service at 10am on Sunday, December 30…same time…same place…same Bat-channel…see what I did there?!)

A Watchnight Service provides us with an opportunity to reflect, confess, and prepare:

  1. Reflect – upon the year that has come to an end; what was started, what was accomplished, and what was left undone; the joys and successes alongside the trials and the losses.
  2. Confess – our sins, individually and communally, and be reconciled
  3. Prepare – for the new year through prayer and resolving.

As I consider the spiritual opportunities in a Watchnight Service I see a fantastic opportunity for growth in spiritual discipline throughout the new year.  What if I (what if we) resolved to have this sort of reflection time each week during 2013?  A time to:

  1. Reflect – upon the week that has come to an end; what was started, what was accomplished, and what was left undone; the joys and successes alongside the trials and the losses.
  2. Confess – my sin and be reconciled.
  3. Prepare – for the new week through prayer and resolving change and to be the change.

Each weekly watchnight would be an opportunity for private worship, study, journaling, and prayer.  Each weekly watchnight would be an opportunity to commune with God, center oneself again on the being who is our true center, and then proceed into the world as God’s hands and feet.

Perhaps…

Perhaps this is what God is calling you to resolve…perhaps this is not what God is calling you to resolve.  If a weekly reflection experience is not your cup of tea, then seek diligently the way God is calling you to resolve more time in the divine presence.  Seek it.  Name it.  Engage it.  And on the cusp of 2014 we will celebrate it!

Happy New Year!

Prayer: For “Seeking God’s Will” through Confession and Words of Assurance* by Bishop Ken Carter, Resident Bishop of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

O God, we seek you, and yet we hide from you.  At times we draw near, and at other times we move away.  If we are honest, we sometimes prefer darkness to light; despair to hope; confusion to clarity.  Help us receive the call to rebirth as a gift, and open our hearts and minds to the Spirit that makes all things new.  Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Pray in silence.

Brothers and sisters, hear the good news.  The kingdom of God has come near.  Repent, and believe the gospel.  In the name of Jesus, you are forgiven.  Amen.

* Kenneth H. Carter Jr, Prayers and Liturgies of Confession and Assurance (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009), 37.