While the beginning of the New Year is a cause for celebration all over the world, here in Pasadena we have our own particular signs and symbols for “out with the old and in with the new.” The signs for Rose Parade parking started appearing back in November, and now we are surrounded by a primary civic symbol of the approaching festivities: the walls of bleachers that rose like Brigadoon out of the mists of the Old Year preparing us once again to greet and celebrate the New.
The signs and symbols of our New Year's celebrations may differ but they unite us, on this last day of the Year of Our Lord 2008, as a human family -- as we prepare to greet 2009 with all its hopes and possibilities, choices and challenges. And so for this blog of 2008, I want to offer a quote and a prayer – each intended as a blessing for 2009 ahead.
The quote is one my rector shared with us a few weeks ago. “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” said Rahm Emanuel. “It is an opportunity to do things that you think you could not do before.”
We cannot know what challenges face us in the year ahead, but imagine for a minute what a blessing it could be to approach each and every one that arises with Emanuel’s sense of optimism and possibility. If we can take his words to heart – if we can journey ahead convinced that there is opportunity in every challenge -- then together we can accomplish great things in this New Year.
Now, don’t think for a minute that I don’t read the headlines. The challenges ahead of us are big ones; make no mistake about that. An economy reeling, a new administration getting rolling, a world warming and warring … and don't even get me started on the Anglican Communion! I could go on and on. And so could you.
And that’s why I invite you to join me in carrying into this New Year not just a quote in our heads but a prayer in our hearts -- the prayer I have prayed many times over my years at All Saints Church -- the prayer I "inherited" from the priest who mentored me through my ordination process in the Diocese of Los Angeles who "inherited" it from the bishop of her home Diocese of Newark:
Send us anywhere you would have us go,
Only go there with us.
Place upon us any burden you desire,
Only stand by us to sustain us.
Break any tie that binds us,
Except the tie that binds us to you.
We do not know where God will send us in this New Year, and we go forward in trust that wherever that ends up being, God goes there with us. We cannot guess what burdens we will be asked to bear on behalf of the Gospel we have been charged to proclaim, and we know whatever they are God has promised to stand by us to sustain us. And we recognize that there is cost to the promise of this work we have been given to do.
That cost is sometimes breaking the ties that have bound us to the security of “we’ve always done it that way” in order to liberate us to imagine new possibilities – new opportunities; new solutions … for our church, for our cities and for our world.
Finally, as we turn the page from one year to the next, may the blessing of the One who creates, redeems and sustains be with you – those you love, serve and challenge – each and every day of this New Year and always.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!