Just a few days ago the numbers changed on the calendar again. 2018 has gone, and 2019 has come. Many people in America take this time to set new goals, make new promises to ourselves, resolve to change, and generally try to envision themselves anew with the change of these numbers on the calendar. There’s an idea that as the new year rolls around, we can begin anew with whatever needs changing. I can get behind that idea. We need to grow. In order to grow we must change. That’s life, and I want people to live life to the fullest.
I begin the new year with a liturgy that John Wesley shared in his writings, which is in our United Methodist Book of Worship today. (You can also find it here.) This service of Covenant Renewal was introduced to me first by Jeremy Africa, who served as one of the pastors at Plymouth First United Methodist Church in Plymouth, Michigan. He led us through this covenant service while I was home on break from college, and it has become an annual part of my devotional life. Each year I recommit myself to God’s service. I lay aside what tempts me, and follow Jesus to the places where I am needed. The lines, “I will no longer be my own, I will give up myself to your will in all things.” Reminds me that everything I have, including this life, is a gift from God to be used for God’s purposes. “Put me to doing, put me to suffering, let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you, let me be full, let me be empty, let me have all things, let me have nothing.” Challenge me to seek contentment, whether that means working to change an injustice, to be satisfied with enough, or to enjoy the gifts I’ve been given. This liturgy echoes in my mind all year long, and I return to it from time to time praying a shortened version of the prayers in it. If you are looking to recommit yourself to God, spirituality, or seeking the divine in this season, then I invite you to join me in this liturgy that you too might be blessed.
For those of you who relate to me regularly, I want to share a few of my goals for this coming year. I do this because I am hoping that you will aske me about them and help hold me accountable to them. I share them also so that maybe you would be inspired to aim high in this next year.
- Read at least 12 books and record my thoughts on them after completing each.
- Continue to re-learn German (I spent 3 years learning German in high school and college, and have forgotten most of it.)
- Learn Spanish (I’ve been slowly learning this language, and I want to be able to connect with those who live near me but don’t speak English.)
- Take time for my hobby (Miniature Wargaming) at least once every day (painting, reading, sculpting, playing, or building these little figures gives me a sense of peace, progress, and helps me de-stress)
- Continue to exercise at least 3 times a week. (Last year I made a new commitment to get back into shape in August. Since then I’ve been working out at the gym three times each week. I need to get back to running.)
- Continue to pay attention to what I eat and drink to further my health goals. (Last year I started recording what I eat using an app called MyFitnessPal. It’s been both helpful and a bit convicting as I record what I eat and learn about portion control.)
- Laugh every day. (I’ve read many times about the relationship to laughter and health. I pray that God will grow the fruit of joy in my heart this 2019 year. One way that I believe God will do that is through regular exercise of humor through laughter. SO if you find something that makes you laugh, please share it with me.)
- Play more games with my children. (My kids are old enough now so that they can all read. They love to play board games now and I need to make sure I’m spending time doing this with them, even if it means that 1000th game of Life or teaching my kids how to throw a football. I don’t’ want to miss out on these years with them bonding around the table and on the field.)
Friends, may you enter into 2019 with thanksgiving in your hearts. God has blessed you. It may not feel like it today, but you are highly favored of God. You are loved. You are forgiven. You are accepted and welcome in the Kingdom of God. May you find God’s presence with you throughout this year as you grow and change to be more who you were created to be!