Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Year C Christmas 1 WED 2019 Begin with Prayer

Year C Christmas 1, 2 January, 2019 
St. James the Less Episcopal, Ashland, VA 
“Begin with Prayer” 

John 6:35-42, 48-51 
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away; 38 for I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 This is indeed the will of my Father, that all who see the Son and believe in him may have eternal life; and I will raise them up on the last day.” 
41 Then the Jews began to complain about him because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They were saying, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How can he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”  
48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”  And so it begins! Another year. Another start. Our arbitrary calendar is an accident of history, and tradition. But it is ours, and we will not change it any time soon, so the line in the sand is what it is. A new year. 

Yesterday marked a new beginning in Jesus’ life, with the the Feast of the Holy Name. Mary and Joseph took him to the Temple and named him Yeshua (Jesus in the Greek). It was foretold by the Angel Gabriel. It means “Yahweh (the proper name of God given at the Burning Bush) Saves.” During that there was recognition that he a) had lived and survived childbirth a whole week, and b) was male, so Jesus was also welcomed into the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through circumcision.  

You may or may not have made promises or resolved to change yesterday, but however you see it, we all have to write new dates on our checks. 

Yesterday my best friend from High School called to check in and let me know he was praying for me and my ministry. He is now a Pentecostal preacher near the North Carolina border. He said something that is so true, and it caught my attention. He was telling his people how they had to bathe everything with prayer, and if we do, God will be glorified with whatever the outcome. He let me know that he sees evidence of God’s blessings in my posts on Facebook. I pray he is right. So in light of that, let’s soak this year, and its new beginnings in prayer. This morning I would like to help us all start with a prayer from the theologian and teacher, Howard Thurman, one of my favorites.  

A Prayer For The New Year   God,  Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. There will be much to test me and make weak my strength before the year ends.  In my confusion I shall often say the word that is not true and do the thing of which I am ashamed. There will be errors in the mind and great inaccuracies of judgment.  In seeking the light, I shall again and again find myself walking in the darkness.  I shall mistake my light for Your light and I shall drink from the responsibility of the choice I make...  Though my days be marked with failures, stumblings, fallings, let my spirit be free so that You may take it and redeem my moments in all the ways my needs reveal.  
 Give me the quiet assurance of Your Love and Presence. Grant that I may pass through the coming year with a faithful heart. 

As Jesus put it, look for and look after God first, and everything else will be okay. Blessings on our 2019! Amen. 

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Blessings, Rock