Pastor Pat's New Year's Message
We’ve all just been handed something very special: a “brand, spanking-new” New Year with which to do some very special things. OR not. It’s really up to us.
Newness is something that is very popular in our American culture. Who doesn’t enjoy that “new car” smell, that fresh-out-of the box aroma of a new pair of leather shoes, or the feel of that nice Christmas sweater you just opened? Even now, New Year’s resolutions have that new car smell at the moment. Our resolve is high to make this year different than other years. But if the truth be told, the average time between the moment we make our resolutions and their demise is a sad three weeks. By that time all the newness has been aired out of them – and they become mere chores. It’s one of the reasons I don’t make resolutions.
Instead, I’d like to offer us a different focus for our New Year’s enthusiasm. Let’s focus on provisions for the journey. We’re also a culture that, when faced by the unknown, like to stock up on what we need. Right now as I write this, a winter storm is bearing down on the Northeast. Go anywhere today and you’ll see people “stocking up” for the possibility that they’ll be sheltering in place against a blizzard.
I’ve often been fascinated why a snowstorm requires bread milk and eggs, any more than any other day in the year. But apparently, it makes our anxious egos less riled up.
So my question for you is this. Focus on the year ahead. What are the most important “provisions” that you will need for the journey? When you think about the most challenging times in your life, what are the most important things that have tided you over? Personally, I can think of some precious things that have gotten me through. The majority of these things take up little or no physical space, which make sense because Jesus always encouraged his disciples to travel light. In Mark 6:8-9, Jesus “charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff; no bread, no bag, no money in their belts; 9 but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics.” His point was to focus them, not to be impoverished, but to clear their vision of material things so that they can clearly see the most precious provisions of all: other people, and the presence of God in those people. Of the most precious things on my journey, I count the kind presence of friends in dark hours. I stockpile in my mind the sound of their voices. I also hoard up within my soul those moments when I have been transported by beauty far beyond the ordinary. The ring of truth in scripture; a perfect poem, or word of wisdom from a spiritual master. And those transcendent moments when I hear the voice of God through music or song. You know these moments when you experience this soul-stirring moment, as a YouTube video of a baby listening to his mother sing showed us at Christmas: http://www.youtube.com/watch?
These are my provisions for the times the wind blows. So at the beginning of this new journey of 2014, as you put away your milk, eggs and bread, I ask you to contemplate this: who and what are the real provisions of your life? Think of them, and tuck them away in that special part of your heart that you reserve for precious things.
Pastor Pat Kriss