“New Year’s Resolution: More Wonder, Less Worry!”

“When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them? —Psalm 8: 3,4. NRSV

I have never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. Nonetheless, as 2020 begins I resolve to have more wonder in my life and less worry. I’m not going to lie; there is plenty to worry about. But I have learned from keeping a journal that when I look back on what I was worrying about it was usually the wrong thing.

I resolve to be less distracted by the shiny and ephemeral so that I can pay more attention to what is truly wonderful around me. Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel wrote this about wonder: “We do not come upon wonder only at the climax of thinking or in observing strange, extraordinary facts but in the startling fact that there are facts at all: being, the universe, the unfolding of time. We may face wonder at every turn, in a grain of sand, in an atom, as well as in the stellar space.” (God in Search of Man)

The poet who wrote Psalm 8 looked up at the night sky in wonder and became aware of the vast divide between the eternal Creator and us frail creatures. The Psalmist was also wonder-struck that this majestic Creator should care for us mortals.

Whenever I am hesitant to approach this high and holy God in prayer, I remember that this same God, so far removed from us, reached out in love to be “God with us” in the humanity of Jesus Christ. Jesus himself is the mediator between heaven and earth. He is the bridge between frail human flesh and the majesty of the Creator.

Whatever the new year brings God will be with us, and that is cause for more wonder and less worry!

Prayer: God with us, as the new year unfolds, open us to the wonder that is everywhere around us, and free us from the worry that robs us of fullness of life, through Jesus Christ our Lord.

(This is my devotion for January 1, 2020 in the United Church of Christ’s Daily Devotional booklet for Advent to Epiphany. Photo: “The Gloaming” by R.L Floyd, 2019.)

 

“I Have Seen Enough” A Devotion on Hebrews 11: 1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. – Hebrews 11:1 (NRSV)

The writer of the Letter to the Hebrews doesn’t subscribe to the popular axiom that “seeing is believing.” On the contrary, for him faith is believing in that which cannot be seen.

I wouldn’t disagree with him, but I would add that I have seen enough in my life to confirm such a faith in things not seen. Continue reading

“New Shoots from Old Stumps” A Sermon for the Second Sunday of Advent, Year A

I’ll tell you a secret. It is something every pastor knows. Also, any therapist, social worker or anybody else who deals with people at a deeply personal level. For many people this is not “the most wonderful time of the year.” For many it is a sad and troubled time. Advent invites us to consider even the darkest parts of our world and of our lives. And that is a good thing, because often the deepest truths are found in the darkest times. That certainly has been true for me. Continue reading

“Heads Up!” A Sermon for the First Sunday of Advent, Year A

Advent is my favorite season of the church year. It has a different feel to it than the other seasons. There is a sense of yearning in Advent. A sense of anticipation. It is a time of watching and waiting. A time to remind ourselves that there are forces at work beyond our control. Continue reading

“Rich Toward God” A Stewardship Sermon on Luke 12:13-21

Someone in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.” But he said to him, “Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?” And he said to them, “Take care! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of possessions.” Then he told them a parable: “The land of a rich man produced abundantly. And he thought to himself, ‘What should I do, for I have no place to store my crops?’ Then he said, ‘I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life is being demanded of you. And the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So it is with those who store up treasures for themselves but are not rich toward God.” —Luke 12:13-21 NRSV Continue reading

“A Horizon of Hope” A Devotion on Jeremiah 32: 14-15

“Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time. For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.” – Jeremiah 32:14-15 (NRSV)

It was the early 1970s when I first studied Jeremiah. It was the time of Watergate, Vietnam, and the Cold War. We were discouraged about the state of our nation and the world. Jeremiah prophesied during one of Israel’s worst times: the armies of Babylon had surrounded Jerusalem, and Jeremiah was under house arrest because his words had been too painful for King Zedekiah of Judah to hear. Continue reading