January 2016

Greetings in the name of Christ:

Happy New Year! Welcome to our Best Year Yet!

This may be a bit presumptuous on my part as some of us may be facing mountains that we are not certain we can climb, however, I am not saying that this will be the easiest year that any of us have ever faced, but it can be our best year.

As I said in my sermon this past Sunday, if this year brings us closer to God and closer to our friends, if it helps us value more highly the things that really matter and causes us to appreciate more deeply the gift of simply being alive, it will be a great year no matter what our circumstances.

Some time during the next week or so, go into a quiet place and leave the world behind. Set aside a substantial block of time at one sitting for reflection and prayer.

During this time, begin with prayer; ask God for real guidance to know what is best for your life and how to accomplish it.

Then read the following Scripture passages:

  • Proverbs 3:5-8 – Trusting in the Lord;
  • Matthew 6:25-33 – Do Not Worry;
  • Romans 12 – A Living Sacrifice, Humble Service in the Body of Christ, and Love in Action; and
  • Philippians 4:4-13 – Final Exhortations & Thanks for Their Gifts.

Read them more than once; do not presume that you got the whole point the first time through.

Then pray again asking for the Holy Spirit to illuminate your thoughts; that God’s thoughts would become your own. Just sit quietly and ponder what you have read.

Take time to think, jot down or draw on paper, or use a recorder for the ideas and pictures that come to you. Record them as they come; you can prioritize them later.

When you come to the point that you feel wrung out, spent of any further ability to think or imagine; stop. Give thanks to God for what’s come forth, leave your quiet place and rejoin the world.

Now I know that we all have trouble finding even one spare hour in a week, much less a real block of time. Nevertheless, if we carve it out, give up something on the calendar if necessary, surrender an appointment if possible, all the rest of our hours throughout the year ahead will amount to so much more than just time spent.

We will know where we have invested them. Our feet will be upon the best path, and we will know where we are going.

I will be practicing this on a frequent basis.

The Day of Epiphany, like the Day of Pentecost, marks the end of a major cycle of the Church Year. For Pentecost, it is the Lent-Easter Season cycle. Epiphany marks the culmination of the Advent-Christian Season cycle.

So on the Day of Epiphany, Wednesday, January 6th, the season celebrating and contemplating the mystery of incarnation and all God becoming flesh has set loose in the world.

Starting this week, we shift into a season of ministry and calling to discipleship. We spend these weeks of Ordinary Time after Epiphany on two major missional tasks: calling people for a life of discipleship and getting the church ready for its work of preparing people for a life of discipleship throughout the Season of Lent.

Let’s all work together in 2016 to make sure that this year is our best year yet!

In faithful service,
Don Baker