Merry Christmas, my friends. I hope that all of you were able to allow yourselves to slow down after the rush of preparation for the big holiday and to enjoy the light and joy of Christmas. Too many of us rush through December as we try to finish all of our tasks of shopping and cooking and baking and decoration such that we are sometimes too tired to really take in the delights of Christmas in our hearts. And then, folks rush out the very next day to return gifts and clean up all the clutter and some even take down all of their beautiful decorations within days following Christmas.
So let’s slow down and be in this time, this Season of Christmas, shall we? Some call these days between Christmas and the Epiphany Christmas tide; whatever we call it, It’s a wonderful time to truly enjoy the message of Christmas and to reflect upon its meaning in our lives, now, here, in this moment. What does it mean that our God is with us, that God chose to join us in human form arriving as a newborn, to experience the joys and sorrows of humanity, and then as he reached adulthood, to take on the work of teacher and preacher for a few short years, reaching out to the lost and forgotten, the suffering and struggling, to each of us with a message of hope and peace? We surely do not have to cram all of Christmas into one day. These 12 days of Christmas are certainly a time of slowing down and welcoming the beauty of this message of hope, of recommitting ourselves to walking the Way of Jesus, and really enjoying these days of hope and gladness, of joy in our hearts, and joy and hope for the world.
In the midst of this Season, we mark the beginning of a new year in our calendar, a time to reflect on the year past and to look forward with hope and prayers for better days ahead. I’d like to invite us to be together this morning and to pause in a new year’s meditation shared by Joyce Rupp.
I hope for you in this new year of 2023
That the single, most significant dimension of life is your relationship with the Source of Goodness who never ceases to sing love songs to your soul
That you find meaning, purpose, and vitality in what you do daily
That you treasure your loved ones and let them know how dear they are to you
That you make choices and decisions that reflect your truest self
That you look in the mirror at least once a day and smile in happy amazement
That you remember relationships are what count above all else – more than work or money, or all the material things we spend so much time tending
That you live in an uncluttered manner, enjoying the freedom to be content
That you keep your sense of humor when things don’t go the way you want
That you find adventure in each new day and marvel at the wonders of creation
which constantly present themselves to you
That you never give up on yourself when others turn away or do not understand
That you are attentive to the health of your body, mind and spirit
That you take risks and accept the growth-full challenges that come to you
That you draw on your inner strength and resiliency when you are in need
That you carry peace within yourself, allowing it to slip into the hearts of others
so our planet becomes a place where violence, division, and war are no more