Looking Back, Looking Forward

I read the following devotional this morning. It is written for the last day of the month, a time to reflect on the recent past. I think it applies just as well looking back on an entire year, while anticipating a new year. I invite you to spend a few moments today in self-examination.

To what extent have I identified God's work in my life: in making me more compassionate toward the needs of individuals? In giving me resolve to do what I can to remedy the deep ills of society, particularly all forms of abuse and exploitation that demean God's daughters and sons? In giving me greater spiritual discernment while at prayer, particularly in the study of the Scriptures?

Have I prayed earnestly for peace, and given thanks for all who seek to bring it about? How have I worked toward it in my own community? In my own family?

To what extent have I worked to preserve and protect the physical world around me, by conserving its resources and refraining from those practices that upset its delicate balances of life?

To what extent have I during this past year participated in the ministries of the congregation to which I belong, or of other religious groups within my community?

How have I supported those in sorrow, pain, and confusion, and others who are distraught? Those who have suffered from natural disasters?

What support have I given to new members in this congregation, particularly to those who at their baptism I promised, together with the whole people of God in this place, to nurture and undergird with prayer?

Am I more aware now than before of the extent of the church across the whole earth and of the many problems faced by fellow Christians?

Have I been faithful in both the private and public worship of God?

In the longer range:

Looking beyond the year just ended, what growth do I see in my walk with God across the years? What threats to committed discipleship have I overcome? What threats still challenge me? What growth in grace do I wish to achieve in the future?

Have I remembered to give thanks to God for all progress I see and to seek earnestly from God the power to follow more fully?

A closing prayer

O God, mercifully forgive the wrong I have done and the good I have neglected to do. But let not your forgiveness be used by me as an excuse to continue in my old ways. Rather, let your kindness alter what I am and do. Restore in me the image of yourself with which you endowed me at creation.

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner.
Christ, have mercy on me, a penitent.
Lord, have mercy on me, and make me whole. Amen.

from This Day: A Wesleyan Way of Prayer, by Laurence Hull Stookey.

Wishing you all of God's blessings in 2009,
Pastor Frank

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