While our Church New Year began with the first Sunday of Advent on November 30, we get a second chance to celebrate New Year, this time the secular one, later this week. I always enjoy catching snippets of radio and news programs that speculate about what will be remembered from our planet’s most recent circle around the sun. These lists and images often fill me wonder simply for the opportunity to appreciate, observe, and participate in this gift of life. The gifted nature of life is especially evident as we commemorate the Holy Innocents on December 29 (transferred), remembering King Herod’s killing of innocent children in Bethlehem and too many innocent lives lost through violence in our own age.
Good gifts, like life itself, ought not be taken for granted but received consciously and mindfully. Many of us create New Year’s Resolutions. In order to so, we look back at last year and articulate what went well and what we hope might go better in the year to come. This kind of “year-in-review” exercise has deep spiritual roots, particularly in the Ignatian tradition of daily examen, a way of prayer that takes seriously the claim of the Incarnation: that God is present with us in everyday life.
Perhaps you can find some time on New Year’s Day or to reflect or journal in response to these questions:
What were the moments that drew me closer to God and my neighbors in love?
What were the moments that drew me away from God and my neighbors?
And then to take the exercise to a broader level, I encourage you to modify these questions and ask them about our life together at St. Peter’s. What programs, retreats, liturgies did we offer that brought you closer to God’s reality? How might we together experience and offer more spiritual nourishment in the year to come?
May God bless us as we continue our pilgrimage toward faith, hope, and love in 2015.
– The Reverend Joslyn Ogden Schaefer, Associate Rector