Friday, January 01, 2010

Thoughts and Prayers for a New Year

The year 2010 has dawned.  As with any new year, it begins with promise and opportunity.  It suggests the presence of a clean slate, an opportunity to begin again.  A scriptural passage that would speak to this moment might be 2 Corinthians 5:16-21.

 From now on, therefore, we regard no one from a human point of view; even though we once knew Christ from a human point of view, we know him no longer in that way. So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.(NRSV)
 Having been freed from a past that keeps us from walking in fellowship with God and with creation, we are set free to be ambassadors of that word of reconciliation in the world. 

As we choose a path forward, it is important that we take it with all humility, knowing that we do not have all the solutions or all the answers.  It is important that we listen to the voices of those we encounter, for part of the reconciliation process is learning from the stories of others.  Indeed, it is important that we remember that even as we engage the other, we are for them the other. 

As I write this, my hymnal has opened to the long beloved hymn of mission, "We've a Story to Tell to the Nations."  Written in 1896 as the Protestant mission movement was in its heyday, we hear these words:

We've a story to tell to the nations that shall turn their hearts to the right,
a story of truth and mercy, a story of peace and light, a story of peace and light.

Refrain: For the darkness shall turn to the dawning, and the dawning to noonday bright,
and Christ's great kingdom shall come on earth, the kingdom of love and light. 

The problem with the song is that it portrayed a movement that relied on strength and power, even as it sang of love and mercy.  There is no sense here that the other might have some value, something to offer us.  They lived in darkness, and thus we must free them.   We do have a story to share with the nations, but we don't come as superiors, but as fellow human beings who have encountered the presence of God in the person of Jesus.  And even as we (I speak as a Christian) have a story to tell, so do the nations have a story to tell to us.

What will 2010 look like?  We will have to wait until December 31st to answer the question.  But, we can go forward, knowing that our journey is undertaken in the presence of God, and that we are equipped for the journey.  We have been called to a mission, and that mission is to proclaim and live out the reconciliation brought to us in Jesus Christ.
May 2010 be a blessed year for all.
May love show itself fully, so that we might be reconciled with God and one another.
May we live together with grace as our guide, so that we might listen to one another.
May peace reign, and justice show forth its presence.  Amen

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