The first flush of excitement that comes with the opening of a new year is fading fast and may even have dissipated completely for you. And yet there is still the glow of the leftover sparkles from New Year celebrations, and, in some cases, the Christmas lights still hang from the eaves of frozen rooftops. All are reminders of the new that has come with the start of the year, and these reminders stir our hearts and invite us to offer songs of praise and thanksgiving to God. Perhaps the journey to this place has been fraught with pain and sorrow, but here we are, in the realization that it is God who has brought us to this time and place.
This song of thanksgiving—offered by one who has been delivered from distress—calls us to make our individual offerings of praise to the One who makes all things new each moment, each day, each year. The new is inviting because it speaks of possibilities. When that newness follows on the heels of deliverance, it speaks of limitlessness that begins with the blossoming of new hopes and dreams that have been set free to flourish through the expansive grace of God.
The experience of God’s enlivening presence calls forth praise. The new has come and brought increase for those who have been blessed by it. That is the promise that resonates through the words of this psalm in these early days of the year. Who knows what awaits? Yet the present moment of new beginnings is worthy of thanksgiving to God, who not only makes all things new but comes with the promise of new opportunities, new growth, and great flourishing.
God of new beginnings, accept the praise of our hearts for what has been, what is, and what is yet to be. Amen.
The theme of calling is continued in this week’s readings. Isaiah has a vision of God on the throne and is terrified because he knows that he is unworthy; yet he is being called by God. The psalmist, traditionally David, praises God for having a purpose for his life and bringing it to completion. Paul echoes Isaiah’s sentiments of his own unworthiness to the Corinthians. While assuring his readers of the reality of Christ’s bodily resurrection, Paul recognizes that he preaches only by the grace of God. When Jesus is calling his disciples, Simon Peter recognizes him as the Lord and cowers because he feels unworthy—much like the prophet Isaiah had done. These readings teach us that God’s call is based not on our worthiness but on our willingness.
Read Isaiah 6:1-13. When have you heard a difficult call from God? How did you come to finally say, “Here I am; send me”?
Read Psalm 138. How have you seen God uplift the lowly and the humble? How have these experiences changed the way you live out your faith?
Read 1 Corinthians 15:1-11. How does your life witness to Christ’s resurrection?
Read Luke 5:1-11. How has Christ called you? Whether or not you feel worthy to the call, Christ wants you to follow.
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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