Each year I come to this day, I begin to wonder what the next year will hold. What adventures lie in wait? What relationships will form? How will the coming year be similar or different to the year we have just passed through?
But this year feels a little bit different. Certainly, a piece of that difference is the pandemic. If you spend any time on social media, the posts inviting 2020 to end started back in late spring and have only grown in intensity. With the distribution of a vaccine, I sense a new level of hope within society for what 2021 might bring. All this certainly has brought about a different flavor to the New Year, but for my family and I there is another layer.
At this moment, we are not only saying goodbye to 2020, but to a community we love and cherish. In roughly two weeks, my family and I will load our cars and travel north to a new home in Montana. With this move all the common questions we ask at this time of year have taken on a new flavor and for that matter so has everything else.
Take for instance this verse from Colossians: Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunity. (Colossians 4:5, NRSV) In a commo n year, it is a great verse. A New Year brings newness and opportunity. Most of us will meet new people?people we might call outsiders. This year it is a guarantee for me.
As I hear this verse, two things come forward. One, to act wisely. We live in a world that feels more and more segregated. People are placed in camps. Division is pervasive. Yet, to act wisely seems to me to come into these encounters with curiosity?free of assumption. To see these meetings as a gift from God to learn, not only about the person before me, but also about myself. And in doing so, I will fulfill the second piece of this verse?to make the most of the opportunity before me.
I suppose in that way this verse is my own new year’s resolution. Might it also be yours? For no matter what this New Year may bring, each new day will bring occasions to act wisely toward another. May God inspire us to lives that love God and love neighbor in places we have already ventured and in completely new locations, so that we might make the most of every opportunity.
Let us pray...
Holy one, we often let opportunities pass us by and we pray you would inspire us. Help us to see the outsiders among us and to perceive these opportunities for the gift they are. Give us ears to listen and words to speak that share your grace and love with others. Amen.