Sunday, January 1, 2017

Happy New Year

Today, I have the privilege of writing this on the first day of the new year. The lectionary gives a choice of several texts to consider but after much deliberation I chose to reflect on Galatians 3:23-29.

Last night the world said good-bye to 2016. I have found it mildly disturbing to read many comments and memes on Facebook which have spoken of what an awful year 2016 was. Like everything else on social media if it is written often enough and shared multiple times it becomes a new sort of truth. Such is the power of social media.

Perhaps, it is because I am getting older but I haven’t enough years to dismiss one as “rubbish”. Therefore, I am refusing to believe that 2016 was an awful year. Of course, as with any year there were some hard things happen. That is part of living the human life. Yet, as I think back over 2016 I can also see so many good things. As the old hymn urged people to do I want to “count my blessings, name them one by one.” I encourage everyone reading this to do the same.

My personal good-bye to 2016 was one of thankfulness. It was a time to name and appreciate all the good things that have happened throughout the months. It was another year which I am grateful that I had the privilege of living.

So, today I welcome 2017. Our back garden it is white with snow, largely untrodden. A new year stretches before me in the same way. What footprints will I leave in 2017?  How will I make my mark?

Perhaps, one of the saddest things that happened in 2016 was that there was a rise in racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia and fear of religions other than one’s own. It was these words in Galatians that caught my attention. “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one . . . (28)”

I think these words are a timely reminder at the beginning of a new year that all divisions made between human beings are wrong. All people should be valued, loved and accepted.

As a rule, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. If I do they are usually trivial little things, rarely fulfilled, quickly forgotten. But 2017 may have to be different. This year more serious resolutions may be needed.

2017 may see a rise in persecution for those who are perceived to be different. I would like to invite all to join me in a resolution that this year we will stand against racism, patriarchy, xenophobia, homophobia and religious persecution wherever and whenever we see it.

May 2017 be a wonderful year for each of you. May it be a year where your footprints make a difference.