Sunday, January 1, 2017

Prayers for a new year

This morning I hugged a lot of people. A wonderful man with the same name as my nephew led us in singing. Chelsea delivered the announcements and a handful (plus a couple) of us stayed after service and kept saying we were done with our conversation and then we kept talking.

Ryan preached about Matthew 2, the "Magi" or "wise men" who visited Jesus as an infant/toddler (I don't know how old he was exactly...).

We prayed and giggled and shared Communion and went our separate ways until next week.

It was exactly what I needed today. A good dose of my Bethel family. So grateful for these people who I have become closer with this past year.

I am still humbled and honored that they ask me to write and read prayers each week, and this week Ryan asked me to focus them on the Magi's journey and our own spiritual journey. If you need some quiet time this week, feel free to join our Bethel family as an extended member, and read along with our prayers from this week. And if you're local and need a safe place to sit (even if you're not a Jesus fan), come on over to our sanctuary someday. You're always welcome, and we share our donuts.

All righty, I will bid you adieu for now, and leave some prayers below. Blessings and love. And grace, friends. Grace.

For a new year, with new beginnings. May each person in this room find renewed hope today, and tomorrow, and all our days. May we not look to numbers on a scale this year, or likes on Facebook, to discover our worth. May we look instead to a King, a king who came helpless as a baby, but full of strength and light to guide us through this life, to tell us we are so utterly loved. Let us remember that a calendar is just a calendar, and if we make mistakes today, our savior will come rushing in with new mercies each morning. He always does.

As we try to figure out our personal calling, let us be reminded that we will have good days and rough ones, and that we will make it through them all. Humble us in moments of triumph, turning our eyes heavenward to give thanks to the giver of all gifts. And cradle us in our moments of despair, when we are sure we’re on the wrong track. When we are ready to throw in the towel, let us not toss it to the ground to be trampled by marching feet. Instead let us feel the scratchy terry cloth on our cheeks, as you dab our tears and whisper that we are cherished.

That we would learn from the Magi, who traveled far to worship the one who would save us all. When we feel we have no gifts to give, and our feet are blistered from fruitless wandering, may we give the only gift God needs – our worship. May we thank her for breath, for water, for sunlight and hope. May we be grateful that we were given an invitation to life. May we find joy in the journey, solving the mystery of how we are to use our talents to serve our leader and all her children. Let us remember that the Magi had no map, but they had a star, and they found their way.

When evil tries to kill our trust in a loving God, may we be hidden from its violent thwart. As an angel nudged Joseph to Egypt, away from Herod’s destruction, may we be guided to safety. Let us give thanks for our protection each day – in our cars, our homes, on the street and in our cubicles. Though we will feel pain, let us give unending thanks for our shield of faith. Fill our reserves with love, and light, so that we will be renewed with warmth, wanting only to press on toward true freedom.

If 2017 is a year of anything, may it be a year of grace. Grace for ourselves, and grace for those around us. Let us be forgiving, when we waste time, when we snap at our children, when we eat fried chicken instead of a salad. Let us know that inner hatred serves no one. Give us patience for the people who drive us crazy. Over and over, may we respond with kindness. Open our eyes to those who are grieving, or grappling with their lot. May we give them time to heal, keeping close by with tissues, and cookies, and a whole lot of heart.

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