New Year, New Traditions, Same Sacred Word

Grace and Peace to you,

My sisters and brothers in Christ

The Promises

The Hopes

The Challenges

Of this New Year before us

And as we continue our journey

How blessed are we, to know

That the Word has always and will continue to be

Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord

Amen.

 (pause)

Howard Thurman,

one of the most influential theologians of Color

Penned a poem entitled

The Work of Christmas

When the song of the angels is stilled,

when the star in the sky is gone,

when the kings and princes are home,

when the shepherds are back with their flocks,

the work of Christmas begins:

to find the lost,

to heal the broken,

to feed the hungry,

to release the prisoner,

to rebuild the nations,

to bring peace among the people,

to make music in the heart.

New Year’s Eve I found myself sharing the Gospel

With the Lutheran Student Movement students,

Students who are in this daily journey

Who are faced with the same questions

As we beloved,

Wondering how they can make an impact,

Where are they called to serve

Trying to figure out how they can live out their Faith

Actively living out the Good News to others,

The Good News that

The light shines in the darkness

And the darkness,

The darkness of the bitter fruit of hatred

That unfortunately we, as humanity

Seemingly can not wean ourselves from,

That darkness

Will not overcome us

The darkness that routinely invades our sacred spaces

From churches, to our homes, to the streets

Places where we are supposed to feel safe

From grocery stores, college dorms and malls

Places where we interact

Connect

with one another as community

The darkness that tells us our differences should keep us separated

That refuses to give us the permission to co-exist

To learn, to be educated, to mingle and dance with one another

As the Creator has called us, molded us, teaches us

(pause)

But humanity has this continuous issue,

Of NOT receiving God’s Grace!

Of NOT allowing ourselves to be vulnerable

To God’s WORD

“He was in the world,

and the world came into being through him;

yet the world did not know him.”

This world did not know Jesus Christ

When He engaged with those who were considers outcasts:

A Samaritan woman,

The invalid at the pool

The blind man

This world did not know Jesus Christ

When He spoke and taught,

About what their responsibilities were

to those who had not been

Welcomed-

The Gentile

The Immigrant

The so called faith-less

The world did not understand Jesus

When He fed multitudes

Through food,

And satisfied their hunger

With His Word

God’s Word

This world does not know Jesus Christ now,

When clearly Jesus calls us to be in relationship

Especially when we are in one another’s company

Especially when we encounter those

We don’t know

Especially when because of Jesus,

We are called to dig a little deeper into ourselves

Touching the core

Of what God has called us to

Because of HIM

 “But to all who received him,

who believed in his name,

he gave power to become children of God”

HIS NAME

Jesus extends the Grace and Mercy of the Living GOD

That believing in HIS NAME

GRANTS US PEACE

GRANTS US the right

To be

To be counted as essential

Vital to how life ebbs and flows

Regardless of who we are

It is not based on human decision

Or human will

Or how our skin is painted

Or how our language is colored

Or what worth we are measured up by human standards

Because of recognizing who Jesus IS

Because we hear Jesus’s name and know,

WE ARE LOVED

(pause)

That should be so simple to grasp, right?

But sometimes knowing that God Loves Us

Is not enough

Especially when the darkness crowds out the light

In those times when we feel abandoned

When we are ill

When we struggle with depression

When we don’t have access to resources

that will make this life

bearable

When we see others dancing and praising the Lord

And our feet, our very being,

Feels like concrete

When it seems that the flames of the Holy Spirit

Have dissipated

Because we cannot feel the presence of God

In Sacred Spaces

When even God’s Word seemingly leaves us empty-

And how can that be?

The Good News of God’s Promises are everywhere!

Jeremiah sings of them

The Psalms sings of them

But when we wake up each morning guarding our hearts

Because what we are bombarded with from this world

Our sorrows overflow,

And then we want to SEE GOD

No more words!

Have you found yourself crying out,

At the beginning of each new year,

ENOUGH GOD

WHERE ARE YOU!

(pause)

No one has ever seen God,

but the one and only Son,

who is himself God

and is in closest relationship with the Father,

has made him known.”

We know that Jesus Christ,

Was born,

Lived,

Taught

Healed

And Gave of Himself

For US

Because God LOVES US

And because of HIM

For each moment we experience pain and sorrow

There is a fellow sister or brother in Christ

Who comes with extended hands, and prayers,

And a listening ear.

For each moment we are abandoned and removed from comfort

There is a fellow sister or brother of Faith

Who extends hospitality of their home, their selves, their treasures

For each moment of hatred that spews from humanity

Who have forgotten that they too,

Are children of God

There are others,

Whether they are fellow followers of Jesus Christ

Who open their sacred spaces to immigrants fleeing death

Whether they are Muslims,

Who protect their Christian sisters and brothers as they pray

In hostile places

Whether they are people of faith,

Who live out the meaning of the Good News of Jesus Christ

On the streets

Standing up for those who have been abused and forgotten

Saying,

Not one more

Will we allow the Empire-who refuses to follow Jesus

To hurt those that Jesus has commanded us to love

This-this is the Good News

That the Word of God

Became just like us

To Love us eternally,

Unconditionally

Because of God.

(pause)

So, in this new year

Hear where God is calling you to serve,

To stretch,

To be.

Thanks Be to God.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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