Sunday, January 4, 2015

Prologue for a New Year!

This year at our annual New Year’s Eve party one of my friends asked me, “How was your year?”
This question caught me off guard.
I had never taken time to really think about 2014.
New Year’s is usually about putting the year behind us and thinking about the next year.
It is about making resolutions about what will change in our lives in the upcoming year.
And probably because of this I never gave much thought to 2014.
But also because 2014 was a year without much distinction.
It was a year that some good stuff happened in my life, and some bad stuff, but it was really just a year like any other year.
I had some success, and some failures.
I celebrated a few milestones with friends that got married, got pregnant, had babies, or whatever.
I watched my children grow and become more independent.
I mourned over the loss of loved ones.
(My grandmother died this past year.)
I worried about friends who are battling cancer.
I prayed that they would live another day, month, year.
I gave thanks that my mother was still alive, and active despite her battle with cancer.
I spent time with family and friends.
I swam in the waters of Lake Ossipee, and in Melville lake at my in-laws.
I rooted for the Red Sox, Celtics, and Patriots.
All these things are part of life.
As I think back on my year I think this is just life.
Things happen, some good, some bad.

I can remember other years when friends would come to our New Year’s party.
We would toast in the New Year, and that year was so bad for them that they couldn’t wait for the New Year.
They couldn’t wait for something new to happen in their lives that would change its course.
I am not in that space this year.
I am basically happy and content with my life.
I have a calling that I love, a family that loves me and is dependable and great.
Life is basically good.
Except for when it is bad.
But even in those moments I find that I have a calm about them.
What about you?
How was your year?
Was it a year that was so bad that you are glad it is over, and ready to move on to the new awaiting you in 2015?
Was it really good and life changing?
Did you have a major event that brought you joy?
Was it just like other years?
I have nothing new to report or change, but all in all really good?

I mention this because our Gospel for this morning is the prologue to John’s Gospel.
It is John’s way of telling the Christmas story.
But unlike in Luke or Matthew John doesn’t tell you the story, but John explains what that story means.
It means that, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
That in all areas of our lives, in the world there is a light that shines through the darkness and illuminates our lives.
That light gives us life and hope.
And that nothing that happens in our lives can make it go out.
It is not about optimism, it is about faith in God.
John’s birth story brings to mind the very birth of creation.
That in the beginning there was a formless void, God spoke and said, “Let there be light.”
In this New Year God speaks to us once again.
God says that God is not done creating us, and so we have another year of life.
God says into our darkness let there be light.
The light is God’s only son, Jesus.

Some of you may know, through the history channel or magazine articles, ( that Christmas was a Christian celebration that co-opted the pagan celebration of Saturnalia.
Saturnalia was the Roman festival of lights leading to the winter solstice.
It brought light to the darkest days of the earth, and anticipated the return of light.
It makes sense that this is part of what we celebrate at Christmas.
Because what we are reminded of this time of year is that God is always shining light into the darkness.

As I look back on my year regardless of what happened that light was always shining.
Every week I try to share it with you all.
I try to read the scripture and find the light in our world, in our church, in our lives, and point it out so that you will know that God is shining light.

And perhaps that is what we can look forward to in 2015.
We can look forward to God shining light into our lives.
Because we don’t know what kind of year this will be.
We don’t know what will happen that is unexpected in this new year.
What we can be sure of is that God will be in it.
God will be there shining light of grace

That is what I remember most about 2014.
Is that God was there for me, with me, in me.
God was there with you, for you, in you.
Even when things didn’t work out as planned.
God was there even when things looked bad, God’s grace and truth shown through it all.

I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, mainly because I never keep them.
But also because they are much too dependent on my will to make those things happen, and I know myself well enough by now to know I don’t have the will power.
So a while ago I simply stopped making them.
But some of my friends are into this idea about taking one word and making that your word for the year.
There is a book called, “One Word that will change your life.” (
It is based on the idea that if you pick just one word and focus on it you it will help you in that area, and make a significant change in your life.
So your word can be forgiveness, if you feel that you need to forgive more.
I really like this idea.
It is so much better than making a list of resolutions, because it helps us focus on spiritually what needs to change in our lives not just on what happens on the outside.
I was giving some thought to my word and what it should be.
And I realized that my word is always the same.
This year I want to continue to be able to see and understand God’s grace given in Jesus Christ.
I always want that to be central to who I am as a child of God.
It is not about me and what I do, but about what God’s grace is making possible around me, through me, in me.
I want to know what God will do in my life this year.
What is the one word that God will make in my life to make me see God’s light.
And for me that word is always grace.
That in my year, in your year, you and I will experience grace in some way shape or form.
It may be that we will understand something about God differently.
We will be offered forgiveness by someone.
We will get through a trying time because of God’s presence.
Whatever it is God will bring light into our lives through grace.

And that is what I hope for all of us in 2015.
That we see the light that shines in the darkness, that we see that the darkness cannot overcome it.
That God is always creating something new in us, with us, through us.
That God is with us no matter how our lives are in the new year.

And so let that be our new year’s resolution.
And next year when we are asked, “how was your year?”
We will be able to say, “Well…the light shined in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”

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