Welcoming 2013

Dear Lord,

I suppose each and every moment is an invitation from you to consider life and love and light and all the big questions. If so, I must plead guilty to hardly ever hearing the invitation, let alone responding to it in a meaningful way. So let me stop here, and begin by thanking You for continually inviting this deaf and mute and blind servant of yours to become more attentive, more open to hear and see and say what is really right here. Thank You for that constant gift.

Somehow, in the midst of that blessed and ongoing invitation, the end of a year as we measure it, and the advent of another, seems more to get my attention, to help me actually to hear You opening the opportunity for me to take the measure of life and to see You alive within it; indeed to see you as the reason there is life at all.

Thank You for this moment then, and for those that have preceded throughout 2012, and for those about to follow in the time that we will name 2013. I have to say that over the past 12 months I have rarely valued the moment, so caught up have I been in responding to what had just transpired, or in anticipation of what I thought was about to happen. Caught between past and future, I most often neglected the present.

Further, with television and internet and myriad means of communication all around, I often neglected my immediate context so caught up was I in the big world around me. This is a conundrum. I am a part of that larger world, and I believe that with all others I share a responsibility for the totality of this human world. And yet, if I focus there almost to the exclusion of the reality closer at hand, what do I fail to see, to say, to note, to learn from, to appreciate, to savor, to love? So caught again between macro and micro, I often failed to appreciate what was directly before me.

Every year during this Christmas season I am reminded, along with all Christian brothers and sisters, that you are Emmanuel. That is, that you are God-with-us. And this means that You are God with us principally in this present moment, In this time and place. Yes, it is blessedly true that You have been with us through all the moments that we now experience as past. When I dwell on any part of that past, I gain a deeper sense of your faithfulness and love for me. And it is true, as I heard it said recently, that You come to us out of the future, that all that is to come is Yours.

And yet, the moment that I have to spend with You, the moment that I have to be with You, the moment that I have to realize that You live and speak and love, is this moment. This moment. Right now. And right here. I have only this moment, each one as they come forth from Your heart. And that is enough. Much more than enough.

I cannot know what the year ahead will bring, in any of its moments. I can guess from those that have gone before that it will include all that we have yet experienced, both those things that make our hearts sing and those that bring us near the abode of despair. I can guess too that it may bring us to extremes that we have not yet seen. Our times seem more and more to be extreme times. But all the details are hidden from me. And I am glad that they are. Life, death, and all in-between is coming down the celestial highway. I am content to meet each part in its own time.

But in it all, help me to listen more often and carefully for your gentle invitations. Allow me to greet the succeeding moments with more confidence than fear, with more expectation than dread. And grant me in doing so to be for others a source of comfort, of encouragement, and an inspiration to live joyfully.

Bless this world as You wish, Lord God, in the coming days. Help us to be a people more willing to embrace Your good gifts, or rather to allow ourselves to be embraced by them. Every moment is a new creation, and at each new creation I hear Your voice again: “It is good. It is very good.”

Thank You, Lover and Giver and Savior, for the invitation into a new year.

Amen.

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