Happy New Year!!! As a child, I used to really look forward to January … mainly because it’s my birth month, and what kid isn’t excited about her birthday?! Now I dread the birthday because it means I’m growing older, and I want life to slow down so I can savor every moment. I’ve found the saying to be true, “The days are long, but the years are short.”
Like many people, I often use January to take stock of what I hope to accomplish in the year ahead. I’ve made the usual resolutions in past years – to exercise more, to lose weight, to spend more time with my family, etc., etc., etc. Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I fail. And yet time goes on regardless.
This year, I’ve resolved to live differently. This year, I’ve resolved to live focusing on the Light that Epiphany brings. I’ve long loved Epiphany and the symbolism of it. Epiphany is the traditional day in the church when we celebrate the arrival of the wise men at the manger (Matthew 2:1-12). These wise men came from far off places, not knowing where the star would take them, but trusting that it would lead them to something amazing. And it did!! The star led them to the Christ-child. The star led them to our Emmanuel. The star led them to God, our Savior, the divine Word enfleshed. What a great gift they received as they bowed down before him, welcoming the newborn King! The Light had come into the dark world, and the darkness could not (and will not ever) overcome it (John 1:1-5).
As I focus on the Light in 2019, I’m inviting the congregation and friends of Avondale UMC to join me in doing the same. One way of doing this is through Star Gifts. A Star Gift is a single word that a person is invited to receive from God. God chooses the Star Gift for you, not the other way around. Folks are encouraged to take their Star Gift, look it up in a dictionary, pray over it, and ask God to enlighten them through that word in the coming year. Many people who have meditated on their Star Gift in previous years often share how God revealed the Light at work in their midst and how meaningful it was for their spiritual life.
I invited folks in worship on Epiphany Sunday (January 6) to receive a Star Gift for 2019. No two stars had the same word on them. Words ranged from things like faith, hope, and love to restraint, journey, discipline, and justice. I received “conviction.” While I was hoping for something a little less daunting, I’m trusting that God will reveal some amazing truths and push me to do some great things in 2019. If you missed that Sunday, we have some Star Gifts left. Email me, and I’ll put one in the mail for you. You can also hear the sermon for that Sunday by subscribing to our Avondale UMC podcast on SoundCloud or iTunes.
My prayer for all of us is that God will guide us in seeking the Light, even when we feel like the darkness may consume us. It is in seeking the Light that we find the dawn of God’s kingdom coming. Gloria in excelsis Deo!!