A new calendar year stretches before us, stirring up fresh resolve in many of us to change our circumstances or ourselves during the next twelve months. Some will write official New Year’s resolutions, making lists of goals to accomplish. Others will not be so formal, writing secret New Year’s longings on our hearts.
Our reading from Colossians also reveals the hope of living a better life. But it is God’s hope for our lives that is recorded in this passage, not a list of resolutions that we have created. In these verses, we find some of God’s deepest hopes for us: hopes for changes needed in the world from this moment onward and hopes made all the more possible by following Jesus.
How might this new year be different from years past if we resolve to grow in compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience? If this day becomes a day of forgiveness, a day that we set our intention either to offer or to accept forgiveness—not in general terms, but with someone in mind—what new life possibilities will open up for us and for others? And even better, what if we set a new-year intention to make forgiveness a spiritual life practice, a daily pattern of prayer and response for which God has already given us an example in Jesus?
And finally, what if our night prayer from this time onward —a prayer to guide our resolutions and hopes, whatever they may be—could rise out of God’s word:
Through this night, O God, and in every waking moment, clothe me with your love. Bind me in perfect harmony to everything you love, and open my heart more and more each day to carry the peace of Christ. Amen.
Prince of Peace, I lift my heart in thanksgiving that you are my guide into the coming year. May I follow you in the ways of love. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
• Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
• Read Psalm 148. How have you witnessed creation praising the Creator?
• Read Colossians 3:12-17. With what qualities from this list do you clothe yourself daily?
• Read Luke 2:41-52. When has a not-as-usual occurrence generated anxiety in your life? How was it resolved?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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