Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ring in 2009

Welcome to 2009 everyone!

Another chapter has closed and another begun. If you listen to the news much, you may not be feeling all that optimistic about what this year is to bring. But it's still a baby now, so let's give it a chance, shall we?

Certainly, the new administration in our country is something to look forward to. I am very, very excited to see what will happen! I remain prayerful for President-Elect Obama and his family, wanting to see them all safe and him safely inducted into office.

And now for the Word of the Year!

In thinking about the economy and the year to come, I posted this quote from my Advent devotional in one of my entries a few days ago:

Hope is a state of mind independent of the state of the world. If your heart's full of hope, you can be persistent when you can't be optimistic. You can keep the faith despite the evidence, knowing that onl in so doing has the evidence any chance of changing. So while I'm not optimistic, I'm always very hopeful. - William Sloane Coffin

And the writer of the devotional, James, A. Harnish, said this,

Advent hope is not naive optimism that things will get better if we wait; it is acting in the present on the basis of what we believe about the future.

I really started thinking that this year's word for me might be, "hope." I thought about having it, but more, I thought about being it for others. But while hope is something we all need, it casts a bit of melancholy - for me - in thinking about it. I guess I didn't want a word for my entire year to have such a feeling of longing attached to it.

Still, these quotes were - ARE - inpiring to me. I do want to be hope for others, because that is what we Christians have to offer to others. "Christ has no body now on earth, but yours; said Saint Teresa of Avila, yours are the only hands with which he can do his work, yours are the only feet with which he can go about the world, yours are the only eyes through which his compassion can shine forth upon a troubled world. Christ has no body on earth now but yours."

One of the things that keeps me excited in my walk with Christ is that He can use me for His purposes. And what are His purposes? Well, one of them - and the one we participate in - is building His kingdom.

...thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven...

Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry explaining to everyone in so many ways, just what the kingdom looked like. He talked to us about sharing and about how the last will be first and about how the promise is the same for everyone and about how we are all given individual talents and opportunities to grow what He gives us and to grow His kingdom.

Seek ye first the kingdom of God and its righteousness...

Part of my imagining last year was just what that is all about.

When I began thinking about resolutions I wanted to make this year, I was struggling a bit to add more to what I've been doing. But then I heard, what to me sounded like the Holy Spirit, saying that I don't need to add more, but instead to build on the foundations of what I have already begun this last year. Continue to build on hospitality through the craft group and the girls' group, expand the giving through charity knitting and other opportunities that come along, continue to grow intentionally in my community, in short, continue to grow the kingdom.

Did you happen to read A Christmas Carol this year? We read the whole of it last year, but I confess, we got started too late this year to complete it. But we did read the first chapter, of course, and I am always so struck by Marley's impassioned plea toward Scrooge:

"Oh! captive, bound, and double ironed," cried the phantom, "not to know that ages of incessant labor by immortal creatures, for this earth, must pass into eternity before the good of which it is suseptible is all developed! Not to know that any Christian spirit working kindly in its little sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short for its vast means of usefulness! Not to know that no space of regret can make amends for one life's opportunities misused! Yes such was I! Oh, such was I!"

" But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself.

"Business! cried the Ghost, wringing his hands again. "Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my business; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were all my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business!"

Yes, this is our business and I do not want to squander the things God has given to me in order to build His kingdom. To me, building the kingdom is about more than witnessing to a bunch of folks and hoping they will become Christian. That has never been something I have been comfortable with and I know I do not have the gift of evangelism. No, for me, building the kingdom means living with that hope in spite of the "realities" we see in front of our faces. In spite of less income, we will share; in spite of ugliness and war and hateful words, we will be beauty and peace and kindness. In the the face of all that is harsh, we will be gentle.

My word for the 2009 is kingdom.

Our own country may face troubles and may begin to crumble, but God's kingdom will stand and I want to continue to be a part of it. This one word will continue to remind me of the real business at hand.

This post has grown, and so I believe I will share my resolutions in the next one. In the meantime, welcome 2009!
p.s. Did you see the title on the New Year's picture at the top of the post? I can't believe I found that one! :)
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