Happy New Year and Welcome to 2020! God is the author of time and the seasons, and the great thing about a New Year is that it provides us the opportunity to look back and assess our failures and successes. The New Year gives us a chance to set new goals and establish a plan for the year ahead. Time can be captured in the past, the present, and the future. The past can be a roadmap for where we want to go in the future. Looking back at the past year for self- evaluation and self-assessment is not to wallow in regrets or to live in the past because we cannot change it. We look back to learn from our mistakes and successes to have the desire to do better.
Are you ready for Christmas? As I write this letter I am not sure how many of you have decorated your house for Christmas. I am not sure whether your tree is decorated or lit. Do you have some presents already wrapped under the tree?
Some of us know the story of “A Christmas Carol” - a cold-hearted moneylender who hates everything about Christmas; he hates the songs, the decorations, the Christmas cheer and the good will it brings. The story continues when Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. After that episode Scrooge became a changed man, helping to keep the Christmas spirit alive for a long time.
On the Christian calendar, Advent comes before Christmas. The word “advent” is derived from the Latin word for “arrival.” It includes the four Sundays before Christmas. Advent helps us to get ready for Christmas. It is a time to prepare and anticipate the arrival of friends, family, and loved ones, but more importantly, it is a time to prepare for the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
It is a season when we light the four candles of Advent with wonderful themes of hope, peace, joy, and love. The candles also symbolize the prophets, the angels, the shepherds, and the Magi, all major characters playing a role in the birth of the Christ Child. Advent allows us to eagerly await the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, God coming to us in the flesh 2,000 years ago. Now we continue to wait for His advent with the angels to come and receive those who belong to Him.
Just as little children bubble up with excitement as they can hardly wait to open their presents on Christmas morning, we also should anticipate the greatest gift of all:
How can we live a worry-free life? Well, gratitude is the antidote for all our worries. Philippians 4:6 says: “Do not be anxious about anything but in all things by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God that transcends all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” It is very difficult to be anxious when you are focused on all the blessings you have. The Bible encourages us to give thanks for all the blessings we have even for the smallest things that we take for granted. When we do this, our perspective and appreciation for the good things in life expands and helps us to cope better when difficulties arise.
Psychologists and medical professionals at Mayo Clinic explain that people who are grateful are also physically and mentally healthier and happier. As we move into the season of thanksgiving let us cultivate a habit of gratitude. We have to train ourselves to be more grateful for there are so many things we can do to show our appreciation to God.
Give thanks for each day when you wake up because it is a blessing to wake up every day and feel alive. And, don’t forget to give thanks every evening before you go to bed. Take time to thank God during meal times. Give thanks for the food provided and for the nourishment of your body. Many around the world go hungry each day without a meal.
Give thanks for the family and friends God has given each one of us to
My Dear Friends,
The month of May brings with it great excitement for all of us. The weather begins to warm up, birds are flying around, and the air is getting fresh and crisp. Those of us who like working outside and digging in the dirt by way of gardening begin to prepare to plant our crops. In general, we all look forward to exciting plans for the summer.
Spring is finally here and we can’t help but notice the new life bursting forth all around us. New life seems to come just around Easter each year. We celebrate with the lilies, tulips, hyacinths, and all the trees begin to blossom again.
Christ has risen and continues to give new life to all of us, not only humans, but to all creation including the plants and animals. He is raised to heal the sick, help those who are struggling. He is raised to help the addict recover and heal those living with pain and to find strength and relief.
Jesus did not only rise from the dead but the scriptures say he ascended into heaven and is seated on the right hand of God the Father. In this Christian calendar
The snow is melting, the birds are chirping! We are beginning to get sightings of robins and daffodils. It looks like we have survived another winter here in the Poconos. Easter is around the corner – Hooray!
As we work our way through Lent, we now turn our eyes to Holy Week. Believe it or not there are people who do not know anything about Holy Week and there are some Christians who skip over Holy Week right to Easter. However, for many of us we know it is an important because it is the holiest of all weeks on our Christian calendar. This week starts with Palm Sunday, which is also called Passion Sunday because we read the story leading up to the crucifixion and death of Christ on the cross. The day begins with waving palm branches and
The journey through Lent starts from Ash Wednesday to Easter. It is a forty-day trip. Even though as Christians we journey together, our experience of the trip will vary. Some of us will travel through Lent without giving it much thought and some will go through without much effort and some with little investment and gain nothing. However, others will embrace the journey, challenge themselves in a new spiritual way and in the end find themselves renewed, refreshed and transformed. So, as we begin the journey next week we all have to decide ahead of time how we would like our experience to go.
We must take the time to prepare and plan just like we would plan for a road trip. There is no better opportunity to reorder our lives, make a new start, and deepen our spiritual life through reflection.
February is the shortest month of the year. Although short it is filled with a lot of activities. The Super Bowl, which claims to be the biggest sporting event, is in February. Another big event in February is Valentine’s Day. What the World Needs Now is Love, Sweet Love is a popular song on YouTube.
Love means many things to many people and as Valentine’s Day approaches we are all reminded that love is in the air. Businesses tell us it is time to buy flowers, candy, heart-shaped chocolates, strawberries and jewelry for those we love.
In the Bible, 1 Corinthians 13 is called “The Love Chapter.” It is the most requested passage of scripture for weddings. It says: “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not envy, it does not boast…” Love penetrates every relationship we have, not just romantic and family relationships but also with everyone we come in contact with. Love should be expressed to those we work with, at the grocery store, and in our everyday activities.
God is the author of time and space. He created time but is not bound by time. So every 365-or-so days he gives us something special: a brand new time called a New Year. The New Year is given to us to do or redo some very special things, if we choose to or not. God leaves it up to us. God understands “newness” - the Bible says His mercies are new every morning. God often says I am going to do a new thing. He promises to give us newness of life. As human beings we also understand newness: we all like “the new car smell” or the fresh aroma of a pair of new shoes or sneakers. We all like something new from time to time.
That is why we make New Year resolutions. We want the New Year to be different from the past years. Many people will sign up for gym membership, buy new running shoes, try to eat healthy and lose some weight. The objective is to have a healthy lifestyle. New Year resolutions lose their momentum pretty fast though, and that is the reason why many people have stopped making them. So how do we prepare for the New Year? God says, “I am doing a new thing; can you see it?” A New Year itself is a new opportunity for us to focus on what God is doing. It is an opportunity to listen for the move of the Spirit in our hearts.