Thought for the month January 2022
Well here we are again, the start of a New Year. Today I’ve made a conscious decision in these thoughts, not to dwell on the past year – yes, I know we can and should learn from the past but frankly we all know what it’s been like in the last year, both individually and collectively. I want therefore to look to the future.
Question: Why do we have to wait for the 31st December each year to make the decision to change (or try to change) certain aspects of our lives?
I could suggest to you that each day is the start of a New Year in our lives, full of opportunity and promise. I could go on to say we should tell this to ourselves every morning. However, as with most New Year’s resolutions, I suspect the novelty would soon wear off! Plus for many people opportunity and promise can be hard to find some days. But do we really need to wait until New Year’s Eve to think about making a new start, to reinvigorate ourselves, to wish peace and prosperity for each other and for the world?
There are many trigger points in our lives where we can seek to rediscover our faith, to find the opportunities and promises of God that present themselves in his creation – birthdays, new school terms, new job, retirement, return from holidays a personal triumph and yes, even personal tragedy – to name but a few – all times and opportunities to start again or to refuel. It seems to me that it’s also important, at times when we’re feeling invigorated and positive not to keep it to ourselves, we should be encouraging others too, perhaps becoming a bit like Barnabas.
36 There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). Acts 4: 36 NRSV.
Those of you who know me will also know I’m not in favour of cherry picking verses out of the bible, in case they fall out of context. But knowing there would be several examples I looked for verses in the N.T. where people were either encouraged, or exhorted to encourage each other, I soon realise it would look like an enormous shopping list!
Having said we should be like Barnabas (which I still think would be a good place to start) in searching for encouragement quotes I found one of my favourite passages from Philippians where Paul urges his readers to an even higher aspiration, drawing on encouragement from Christ himself and being of the same mind.
2 If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, 2 make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others…
So my prayer for each of us this first Sunday in January is that we will look with optimism to the future, trusting in God and seeking out the wonders he has to offer in creation, to work together, supporting each other, lifting and encouraging those who are struggling so they too can see the opportunities and promise the future can hold.
But most importantly, let’s not wait until next Christmas and January 1st to reinvigorate that hope. Jesus’ forgiveness, hope, love and redemption is not seasonal, so why should our desire to wish health, happiness and prosperity to all be restricted to a couple of weeks a year?
Help us through this coming year
To remember that renewal in you
Is not dependant on the day of the year.
Help us always to look to you
And the many blessings
And opportunities in your creation.
Help us to seek your forgiveness and love
And to share it with all those we meet each day.
In Jesus name. Amen