Happy New Year! Are you ready to enter 2019? As the calendar turns, you’re invited to put away negativity while embracing new promises and possibilities. Prepare yourself for a spectacular new year of blessings. Now’s the time to plan for where you’re going and how’d you like to get there.
Before deep-diving into renewal it’s good to know that in the liturgical calendar, today is Epiphany, referring to the revealing of Jesus as the promised Messiah. Eastern wise men visited a young Jesus and presented gifts honoring his divine status. There’s much speculation about the wise men, about their possible identity as astrologers, diviners or priests from the Zoroastrian religion in Persia. Whoever they were, the wise men remain a biblical symbol of Jesus’ special status. All of this makes for iconic imagery and interesting history but what’s in it for you? Is there a way that God can be more manifest in you by becoming an epiphany in your life? The short answer is a resounding “Yes!”
There is a special exercise this morning intended to help you. In today’s bulletin you’ll notice a one-page insert that starts with the declaration, “God is the love enhancing your life.” This is followed by the renewal equation “God+You=Renew.” Don’t be put-off by the rhyming play on words. There’s nothing wrong using a mnemonic device to make something memorable. The goal of God+You=Renew is to help you attain and live the best possible life. The two key players are you and God, which in the proper relationship generate holistic wellbeing (health in body, mind & spirit). The gist is that you can maximize your life as you mature your relationship with God and thereby fulfill the spiritual aspect of holistic wellbeing.
At the bottom of bulletin insert is a left column with the heading “What to Leave in 2018” followed by three, numbered lines. Your task is to discern what it is that you need to let go of and put behind you so that you don’t carry filth into 2019. For this left-hand column, choose at least three attitudes, behavior, habits, or situations that were harmful, unhelpful, or in some way not life-enhancing. For the right-hand column, jot at least three new attitudes, behaviors, or situations desired, representing what you want to accomplish in 2019.
A great spiritual life is no accident because it requires properly managed attitudes and actions. Changing who and what you is an act of courage and isn’t for the faint of heart. Life is tough. Habit, apathy and distractions can pressure you to drop out. Grasp God’s kingdom, where you can live more authentically. Meet challenges with an attitude of victory. Do your part to keep yourself physically and mentally healthy as you enhance your spirituality. Remember, holistic wellbeing is health in body, mind & spirit so don’t ignore any of these interrelated aspects of your existence. Holistic wellbeing isn’t easy, but in owning your relationship with God you’re taking a vital step toward strengthening your spiritual life. Resist the seduction to subcontract your spiritual renewal to religious specialists or bureaucracies. No one but you and God can forge that fantastic future, one where you accept responsibility for receiving and sharing the greatest power in the universe: God’s loving essence.
What about the cliché of making New Year’s resolutions? Some people detest resolutions, dismissing them as shallow attempts to set goals which are quickly forgotten. Set aside any cynicism and skepticism because whether you call it a resolution, a goal, or an aspiration, you’ll need determination to be the person God wants you to be. Be committed to do the right thing. Be committed that you’ll overcome anything that stands between you and God. Through both good and ill, God will help you grow stronger despite your circumstances.
Declare your intention to seek God’s indwelling Spirit, the core of which is love. If you’re only willing to make one goal or resolution then for goodness sake be committed to grow closer with God and then to share that love with every living creature. When you place yourself next to God (as the God+You=Renew formula illustrates) then you’re in a right relationship. This means that you’re communing with God, sensitive to the presence of the Almighty and willing to embrace love as the primary force of your spiritual renewal.
If you strive for God then you’ll be rewarded with a great life not otherwise possible. Claim divine power as you embrace 2019. Hunger and thirst for a better life as you persist toward holistic wellbeing. Avoid the blame game because the only person who can hold you back is yourself; don’t get in your own way. Set aside the unholy trinity of fear, ignorance and anger. Resist hauling the garbage of 2018 into 2019. You are a new, beautiful creation as a child of God. You’re ready for a fresh start and now it’s up to you to act and think like it. God bless you!