New Year Resolutions by Ken Sehested

I find this expression by Ken Sehested to be so full of wisdom that I am compelled to share it with you in my Blog.

Take my life and let it be / consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
In all seasons, in every shape and condition of our lives,
transform our minds and hearts in ways that magnify the rule of Mercy:

In ways that conform to Your extravagant and redemptive purposes;
in our hopes and promises, in our joys and our sorrows,
whether rising or resting, at home or away,
at work and at play, with those near and dear but also with strangers,
in our longing and our learning to love enemies.

In an age ruled by terrorβ€”both by state and by sectβ€”place on our lips
the subversive claim of the Resurrection.
As the vanguard of your coming Commonwealth,
give us the courage to live at odds with the rage of this age.

Inspire in us a thirst for beauty and for truth.
Instill in us the wisdom to track the signs of your Spirit moving
in odd ways and in unbeknown places.
Incite in us the compassion for those neglected parts
of your creationβ€”soul and soil alikeβ€”
in our neighborhoods, in our nation, in the whole wide world.

Bless these resolutions, these promises,
made today in response to your beckoning,
and make us ever more faithful, day by passing day. Amen.

Β©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitiks.org.

Light Into the New Year

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The year ahead is never clear to us. For some, stepping into it can feel like a step into the darkness. Our hope is to tread safely through the darkness that is 2016, and to find enough light to guide us.

For those who experienced difficulty in 2015, a new year may feel frightening. However, the year may also feel light-filled and full of new promise. May it be so forΒ all of us, and may we find theΒ light we need.

The following poem by Minnie Louise Haskins expresses it so well. In the end, the poet invites us to place our hand in God’s hand and to walk ahead in safety. May you walk safety into 2016 with all the light you need to find your way.

All Things New

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I am the new year. I am an unspoiled page in your book of time.

I am your next chance at the art of living. I am your opportunity to practice what you have learned about life during the last twelve months.

All that you sought and didn’t find is hidden in me, waiting for you to search it but with more determination.

All the good that you tried for and didn’t achieve is mine to grant when you have fewer conflicting desires.

All that you dreamed but didn’t dare to do, all that you hoped but did not will, all the faith that you claimed but did not haveβ€”these slumber lightly, waiting to be awakened by the touch of a strong purpose.

I am your opportunity to renew your allegiance to Him who said, “Behold, I make all things new.”

– From Bible Illustrator

A Brighter 2016

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“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”

  • Romans 12:12 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

Approaching a new year often brings to mind a boatload of resolutions. For me, they usually turn out to be broken promises to myself. And that’s not a good way to start a fresh new year. I could resolve to read more, or to exercise more, or to eat healthier. But reality tells me I won’t do all of that.

There is one resolution I would very much like to make, and I discovered It in the 12th chapter of Romans. I truly believe it’s the key to a brighter year.

So my New Year’s resolution for 2016 is this:

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer.”

I believe it will sustain me well, whatever 2016 brings my way.

Having Peace

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I recently read a quote that makes a lot of sense: “Pick your battles carefully. It’s sometimes better to have peace than to win.”

It would be a good lesson to learn, at least for me. I have often dug in my heels in a disagreement, determined to have the last word. I have, in the past, stubbornly faced off with other people, because I knew I was right. The truth is that I may well have been right, but perhaps the confrontation did not merit a full-on battle.

Giving in when you are in the middle of a disagreement is sometimes the best way to get to a place of peace. And yes, sometimes it really is better to have peace than to win. The older I get, the more important it is to have peace. So I plan to lose some of the small battles I face. I plan to face off on issues that truly matter. I plan to pick carefully the battles I am compelled to fight. It makes good sense.

A Bright Daybreak of Peace

 

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Following the glories of Christmastime, we again come face to face with the reality of a world in turmoil. The following paraphrased quotation by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks of a world we can only imagine, a world in which unarmed truth and unconditional love have the final word.

β€œI refuse to accept the view that humankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and community can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.”

Why are we so far away from this kind of world? Why are we still bound to “the starless midnight of racism and war?” What can we do to bring about the daybreak of peace?

Somehow, we must do what we can to end the rhetoric of hate that we hear from our leaders and potential leaders. How long has it been since our candidates for political office promised a daybreak of peace, a brighter world, a united community where neighbor cared for neighbor?

Instead we hear of the ways we will bomb our enemies. We hear words that call for even more racism and war. We long for a positive candidate for office, a candidate that is intent upon reaching for truth, peace, hope and unconditional love.

To be sure, there are harsh realities that may well require us to be at war in various ways. But isn’t it possible to proclaim a message that inspires us to good instead of a message that employs a rhetoric of hate?

We need a candidate that inspires us to become our higher selves. If we can find that candidate, we will embrace her/his spirit of all that is good among us. If such a leader emerges, we will follow her/him in rebuilding our shattered world.

May God grant us such a leader, and soon. And may God ennoble us to follow the one that inspires us to reach with all our might toward a bright daybreak of peace.

The Eve of Christmas

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Today, we are experiencing the eve of Christmas! Traditionally, it is for us a quiet day. And it is a silent night of waiting.

There is no day like this one in all the year. When night falls, Christmas Eve breaks the silence and sings to us of God’s love and grace. It sings to us of the Prince of Peace that comes to us anew each Christmas. It shines a glorious light that brightens the darkest corners of the world. The next morning, a holy celebration descends upon us, for the Holy Child has been born. The Dayspring from on high has visited us.

I pray that your celebration is a sacred one, remembering the silence of waiting, the brilliance of Bethlehem’s star, the singing of angels, the joy-filled expression of young Mary, the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes in a manger.

May Christmas bring you joy, hope, peace and love.

Nostalgia

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What do you remember as your best Christmas? Was it a childhood memory, a memory from your teen years? In the days around Christmas, we often remember Christmases past, sometimes with great fondness. Sometimes we wish we could recreate the magical emotions of our favorite past Christmas.

And sometimes, we remember Christmases filled with loss and grief. A dear friend of mine lost her son in 2012 right before Christmas. For her, Christmas might always be a time of grief, and certainly nostalgia.

And yet we move on, some of us relishing every Christmas tradition, others just going through the motions. It is true that few of us get to experience a perfect Hallmark-like Christmas. But most all of us experience Christmas with nostalgia.

Nostalgia is delicate, but potent. In Greek, it literally means, “pain from an old wound.” It has been called a twinge in your heart far more powerful than a memory. It is a feeling of a place where we long to go again.

The Christmas season does bring us feelings of nostalgia. But the alternative is to feel no emotion at all. And while we remember the birth of the child we know as the Prince of Peace, the lonely star-lit night in a Bethlehem stable, the miraculous visit of the magi, and the song of angels, it’s more than appropriate to feel nostalgia.

I wish you the feeling of nostalgia this season, and I pray that, though it may bring some sorrow, it will also bring you bright and pleasant memories of Christmases past.