New Year — New Beginnings

Monday, January 2, 2012 — The 9th day of Christmas , Year Two

Vedanayagam Samuel Azariah, First Indian Anglican Bishop, Dornakal, 1945

Today’s Readings for the Daily Office (Book of Common Prayer, p 941)

Psalms 34 (morning) 33 (evening)

1 Kings 19:1-8

Ephesians 4:1-16

John 6:1-14

It is a good thing to make a new beginning. We can feel so haunted, encumbered and bound by the past. Sunrise, like resurrection, gives us new birth, new life. Every experience of confession and forgiveness relieves the burden of accumulated guilt and bestows a fresh start.

There is something especially renewing about the turning of the year. It is a time to let go of the past and to embrace the possibility of a new future. We make resolutions. Some create goals for the year. We reclaim our birthright to live a full and wholesome life.

Last January our friend Philip Zweig who volunteers for our Community Meals feeding program made a new year’s resolution to ride his bicycle every day — a commitment to a growing practice of sustainability, letting go of dependence upon the automobile and embracing a healthier form of travel. He invited others to join him in his discipline by pledging a small donation to Community Meals for each mile he would ride. Two days ago at the end of the year, Philip rode a leisurely victory lap with friends, having accomplished his goal of riding every day — include days of rain, snow and ice — riding over 10,000 miles in 2011.

If he can do that, what might I do? I’m thinking of the disciplines that bring balance, health and wholeness to my life. I’m thinking of the habits that derail and waste my life. The new year offers an opportunity to let go of the latter and to embrace the former.

The morning psalm (34) offers encouragement:

1 I will bless God at all times,

and praise shall ever be in my mouth.

5 Look upon the Most High and be radiant,

and let not your faces be ashamed.

6 I called in my affliction, and God heard me

and saved me from all my troubles.

8 Taste and see that God is good;

happy are they who trust in the Most High!

12 Who among you loves life

and desires long life to enjoy prosperity?

13 Keep your tongue from evil-speaking

and your lips from lying words.

14 Turn from evil and do good;

seek peace and pursue it.

18 God is near to the brokenhearted

and will save those whose spirits are crushed.

19 Many are the troubles of the righteous,

but God will deliver them out of them all.

22 O God, you will ransom the life of your servants,

and none will be punished who trust in you.

Let us offer our resolutions to God with brokenhearted trust and radiant faces. Today is a new beginning — the dawn of new hope. Behold, the past is gone and the future is nigh. What can I do to help bring life and light to to this new year?

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