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Looking Forward in Hope

There is something so sweet about Christmas that I long to hold onto. I’ve found much needed hope in
the nativity scene tucked under my Christmas tree and the Christmas lights outside my living room
window provide a comfortable peace at the end of a long day. It is hard to believe that 2018 is almost at an end.

As we move forward to a new year, I worry. This past year has been long and difficult for many. I’ve
spent a great deal of time in prayer for our nation, for our community, and for friends and family I hold dear. I long to find the hope touches my soul when I view the Christ child in the manger. Even as I turn my focus to my joy and faith in God, I still wonder what the New Year will bring.

As a Pastor, and as a person of faith, I believe that God will provide blessings upon blessings. I know
this is the time where faith is important. Yet, it is not easy to look forward with hope and joy when most of us are tired, worried, and in some cases even a little broken.

This morning I come to God in prayer with the words I’ve lifted up most of this year:
God be with us in this time of need. Help us get past economic and political injustice. Help us to look
upon one another equally as brothers and sisters. Help us to work past our differences and end
violence. Above all else, help us to follow your path and live our lives guided by your love.
I believe that God is calling us today to look forward in hope and let go of the pain and hardship of the past year. Let us remember and learn from what we have experienced this past year and vow to do what we must to make our future better.

I take heart in the words of Philippians 3:13-14 as the moments count down to 2019:

“Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”

May each one of you have a blessed New Year. May the gift of Jesus guide you in hope. May the Holy
Spirit surround you with peace and love. In closing, I share with you a Celtic prayer to start out
your day. In the Celtic spiritual tradition, each day is viewed as a new start with God. May you find hope and excitement this new day with God!

Celtic Prayer
God, bless to me the new day,
Never vouchsafed to me before;
It is to bless Thine own presence
Thou hast given me this time, O God.
Bless Thou to me mine eye,
May mine eye bless all it sees
I will bless my neighbor,
May my neighbor bless me.
God, give me a clean heart,
Let me not from sight of Thine eye;
Bless to me my children and my wife,
And bless to me my means and my cattle.

A traditional Celtic prayer translated by Alexander Carmichael (1832-1912), compiler of oral
traditions in Scotland. Source: Academia
Rev. Julie Sterling