“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry … I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation. Do not, O Lord, withhold your mercy from me; let your steadfast love and your faithfulness keep me safe forever.”~Psalm 40:1, 10-11
Dear People of St. David’s,
Merry Christmas! We’re still right in the middle of this Christmas season, no matter what the secular world tells us, but also, Happy End of 2021!
I am not sure if I should say that with excitement and joy, tentative trepidation, a sigh of relief. I do say Happy End of 2021 and Happy 2022 with faith that God is going to keep showing up no matter that 2022 will bring.
But I am pretty sure that many of you, like me, are okay with the year 2021 ending. It’s been a long and at times very tough year for many people—and ended more like 2020 than most of us had hoped for. Some people had a very similar experience to Christmas and New Year’s 2020—at home and alone, while others this year had tons of travels, family, activities, and outings.
Most likely you are tired. Most likely, you’ve lost someone this year—whether a friend or family member to death, broken relationship, or illness. Probably, you have lost a hope or a dream this year. Perhaps you’ve lost a beloved public figure or icon—in the last week, the world has lost Archbishop Desmond Tutu and writers bell hooks, Joan Didion and Anne Rice.
So I’d like to invite you, in these last few days of the calendar year, to look back with me at the year with grace and clarity, seeing the moments of joy and happiness and the moments of sadness, grief, and loss. This week, I’m going to take some time to ponder where God was present this year, where I felt far from God, looking with compassion on the tough moments and gratefulness on the good moments of the year.
I’m going to be looking for where faith mattered in my life, where I want faith to be a bigger part of the next year.
I’m also reflecting on our St. David’s theme for 2020-2021, Faith Matters, and how it might frame anew our reflection. In Adult Forum, starting January 9, we’ll be looking at the big sweep of the theme of faith in the Bible. I’m eager to dig deeply into the stories of faith in the Bible and see how they might encourage all of us to love and good deeds and growing deeper in our faith in God.
But more than that, perhaps we might consider reflecting on God’s faithfulness. We have faith because it’s a gift from God. And our faith matters because God’s faithfulness matters.
In so many of the psalms, we hear how God’s faithfulness enables the psalmist to respond in faith and hope. God’s faithfulness will carry us through into this new year, no matter what comes. God’s faithfulness is with us in whatever the last year brought and whatever is yet to come.
I pray you might be able to take a few quiet mornings, or late nights, or midday lunch times, to pause, reflect, sit with Scripture and perhaps a notebook or journal, and prayerfully examine the last year and reflect on the coming year.
The podcast (and website) Pray as You Go offers a weekly Saturday examen and you might like to check out that resource as you begin the new year. Or perhaps you might finish reading an Advent or Christmas devotional, or read through the Christmas story again in the Gospels. Xavier University has compiled themed prayer resources and their list of New Year’s prayers might offer you guides in your reflection.
Let us enter this new year with faith that God is going to be present. Let us pray with faith that God’s steadfast love and faithfulness will remain with us forever. Happy End of 2021 and I look forward to walking together in faith into God’s faithfulness for 2022.
The Rev. Emily Zimbrick-Rogers
*Prayer for New Year from Faithful Celebrations: Making Time for God in Winter, edited by Sharon Ely Pearson, published by Church Publishing, 2018 (and shared on the Xavier New Year’s Prayer Resource page).