El Segundo United Methodist Church

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"Come to the Water"
Pastor Lee's Sermon Podcasts

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Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!  We will celebrate the twelfth and final day of the Christmas season on Epiphany Sunday, January 6, and then we are off and running in 2019.  

New Year’s resolutions always come to mind at this time, but, if you are like me, most of the resolutions that you make are doomed to fail.  Perhaps another approach would be helpful.

We read Rev. Larry Peacock’s book The Living Nativity during Advent, and I’d like to share some of his thoughts with you.  He points out that our new year’s resolutions, or “intentions” usually depend solely on our own willpower and efforts.  But our willpower can only go so far.  We need the guidance of the Holy Spirit to ground and support us.  We need God’s loving care to help us make changes that will last.  

In determining our resolutions, Larry encourages us to consider our strongest desires for the coming year.  Those desires might be for ourselves, for someone else, or for a larger community.  What do you hope for as you look into 2019?  What longings stir your heart?  What spiritual practices or service would you like to deepen or restore? The answers to questions like these may help us to shape our intentions for the coming year.

Another suggestion that Larry makes is the creation of a spiritual autobiography or a timeline of significant events in your faith journey.  Such an autobiography or timeline might cover your whole life or just the past year.  Personally, I have found reviewing the past year to be helpful.  Recently, I did a quick reflection on 2018 in my journal, and I discovered that there were some practices, directions, etc., that I want to continue and some that I want to change.  

Mark Heaney, who participated in the class, offered another suggestion that may be helpful.  He said that, at the beginning of a new year, he always tries to fill in the blanks at the end of two sentences.  The first sentence is “This year, I want to be more __________.”  The second sentence is: “This year, I want to be less _________.”  

New Year’s resolutions or intentions, do not, of course, happen on their own.  They must be, as Larry puts it, “folded into our daily patterns.”  They must become habits.  To do that, we need the support of family members or friends, as well as planning and repetition.  I would also suggest that offering our intentions to God and asking for the Spirit’s help will also help us to form them into practices that stay with us.

Whether you make resolutions or not, I encourage you to enter the new year, trusting in God’s guidance and love. To that end, I offer this prayer, adapted from the United Methodist Book of Worship:

Creative God, you make all things new in heaven and on earth.
We come to you in a new year with new desires and old fears, new decisions and old
controversies, new dreams and old weaknesses.
Because you are a God of hope, we know that you create all the possibilities of the future.
Because you are a God of love., we know that you accept all the mistakes of the past.
Because you are the God of our faith, we give you thanks and praise for all that has been,
all that is, and all that will be, trusting in the grace that I have received through Jesus Christ.  We pray all this in his name, Amen.

May 2019 be a year full of blessings for all of us and for our church!

Pastor Lee

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