Eighteen years ago, on New Year’s Eve 1999, the world waited with bated breath for the turn of a new millennium. It was a night filled with uncertainty. Computer systems might crash causing mass chaos. Some people stocked up on bottled water, canned food, and bread.
My mother was not worried about water, but she did want to make sure her family was in the right place just in case the world went to “hell in a handbasket.” So, I rang in the millennium in a church service, kneeling in prayer.
T.S. Elliott once wrote, “If you came this way,/ Taking any route, starting from anywhere,/ At any time or any season,/ It would always be the same; you would have to put off/ Sense and notion. You are not here to verify,/ Instruct yourself, or inform curiosity/ Or carry report. You are here to kneel/ Where prayer has been valid….Here the intersection of the timeless moment…”
Time itself, the year past and the year to come, is a gift from God. We did nothing to earn the gift. It is a gift of grace. And, the appropriate response to a gift is always gratitude.
So, start this New Year with prayer.
2017 was an amazing year filled with meaningful ministry. Children’s lives were touched in our congregation and community through Vacation Bible School and Shine Club. Youth were challenged to grow deeper in their faith and to serve others with their lives. Members of our congregation worshipped fully and served faithfully, grew deeper in faith and gave generously to God’s work in our congregation. We wrapped our arms around families that were grieving the loss of loved ones, then we warmly welcomedfamilies that began to call our church their home. We enhanced our sound system and repaired our steeple. We have so much to celebrate.
2018 will be an amazing year. I recently spoke with someone who has been visiting our church. She said, “Listen. I am going to join the church soon and I hope it is all right…I have already started inviting people to come with me every week.” I assured her that this was absolutely fine. What a wonderful testimony! In fact, I hope we are all inspired by her example. This New Year, let’s commit to inviting new folks, sharing this special place we call Smoke Rise with others.
In America, New Year 2000 was filled anxiety and fear.
At Smoke Rise, New Year 2018 will be filled with anticipation and faith.
God is at work this New Year. Let’s join in God’s good work.