Skip to main content

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

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Famous Black Cat Band

This week my former high school band director, Mr Reinke, died. Mr Reinke is a legend in my hometown of Bay City. He was the leader of our Black Cat Band for many years. He was a fiery man, a perfectionist with extremely high standards. He was a gifted musician. He and I both played the trombone; one of us sounded like a goose being strangled. The other sounded like... well I can't think of a metaphor to properly describe Mr Reinke's horn. It was amazing. He would pull that thing out occasionally to show us how to properly play a part of a song and the sound was spellbinding. 
Mr Reinke was very innovative in his music selections. He had us playing the most random music, from popular stuff of the day by Michael Jackson to Also Sprach Zarathustra (popularly known as the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) to Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody. This song in particular was a great choice-- it's amazing, complicated; however, this was the late 1980s. The song was originally released…

Grief Is a Powerful Thing

"So deeply do we care for you that we are determined to share with you not only the Gospel of God but also our own selves." 1 Thessalonians 2:8
My first couple of Sundays at Grace, early in July, a couple of different people asked me this question immediately before worship: "How are you feeling?" My response: "Terrified." This was met with sort of shocked looks, then afterward the same person would say something like, "See that was ok." I've always been nervous before preaching-- the ramped up nerves help me to focus on my task and give me energy. But this seemed stronger. On Saturday nights my first couple of months at Grace I would hear an inner critic saying, "You're not prepared." "You're going to bomb today." Most Sundays he was wrong. A couple of sermons did bomb, but that happens. I decided to seek out a spiritual director to help me discern what was going on with me. I knew it was internal, but couldn…

a response to gideons international

last sunday prosper united methodist church welcomed representatives of the gideons to share about their ministry. how many times have you stayed in a hotel or visited someone in the hospital and found a gideons Bible there? and while no one can argue that reading the Bible is a bad thing, or that distributing Bibles to others in native languages is inherently harmful, i would like to offer some thoughts on the practices of the gideons, as they were described at church.

1. bravo to the gideons for distributing 73 million Bibles last year. however, most of the Bibles they sent were tiny new testaments with psalms. i am a Christian, and i love the words of the new testament. but those words have their foundation in the old testament, and to remove thousands of years of traditions and stories of God's powerful love and acts of salvation diminishes the power of the whole Bible. we must never forget that the old testament (or "first" testament or "hebrew Bible"…