When the Times Square Ball drops at midnight on January 1st every year, I feel something. Like many people at that same time welcoming the new year, it’s a mix of feelings. Profound thankfulness for another year past and all of the blessings I am mindful of at the time. Simultaneous excitement and anxiety about a new year, and all of the unknowns it brings. At that moment, I’m tempted to hug those I love a little closer than normal. That’s probably the reason celebrating the New Year with close friends and family is such a longstanding tradition. As we begin another new year here at St Mark, I am feeling all of those same feelings.
We have so much to be thankful for in this community as we reflect back on the year past: each other, the faith that we share, and the work that we do. I am privileged to be welcomed to lead a congregation of such loving, dedicated disciples. You have welcomed me to celebrate with you in your greatest joys, and we have mourned together through some of the toughest challenges and losses. I have witnessed the sharing of profound insights and faith, and dedication to the work of the Church. The Church has felt like a rollercoaster at times, and yet you continue to show up, share, and lead. I have learned just how resilient and dedicated congregations can be, even when at times it feels like the rug is being pulled out from under us. Dear friends and family of St Mark, know that I feel truly blessed to know you, to walk with you, and serve among you.
I am excited for another new year together. As we enter 2017, I continue to wonder and dream about what new things God has in store for us. January is an excellent time to embrace change among ourselves, as God continues to “make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Many individuals set goals for the new year – resolutions, clean slates, changes. The same is always true of us at St Mark as well. The truth is though, that change is always difficult. It’s the reason that so many people unfortunately fall off the resolutions wagon so quickly. Committing to something new sounds like a great idea, but at the same time, we are so set in our ways, and are comfortable with the familiar, the traditional, and the stability.
We want to embrace change as an ideal, but it becomes very difficult to embrace when it actually begins to impact us. With all change comes loss. In 2017, we will continue to experience change. While change is never easy, we can move forward faithfully knowing that the most important things never change: God’s love for us, and our identity as baptized, resurrected and beloved children of God.
Blessings on your new year, and many more as we continue to walk together in faith and in the light of Christ.
Peace be with you,