I am spending this morning reflecting a bit on 2012 and praying for 2013. Here are some quotes and prayers that speak loudly to me. I want to share them here.
George Fox, founder of the Religious Society of Friends, wrote, “People must be led out of captivity up to God. Be patterns, be examples that your carriage and life may preach among all sorts of people, and to them. Then you will come to walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.”
The Society of Friends (a.k.a. Quakers) helped to transform America by releasing their slaves in the late 1700's, and by organizing the Underground Railroad. How are we called as followers of Christ in 2013 to stand up to systems of pain and oppression?
"Almighty and everlasting God, in whom we live and move, andhave our being; glory be to Thee for my recovery from sickness, and the continuance of my life. Grant, O my God, that I may improve the year which I am now beginning, and all the days which Thou shalt add to my life, by serious repentance and diligent obedience; that, by the help of thy Holy Spirit, I may use the means of grace to my own salvation, and at last enjoy thy presence in eternal happiness, for Jesus Christ's sake. Amen." (Samuel Johnson 1709-1784).
I love this prayer. The "means of grace" are profound -- spiritual disciplines, sacraments, scripture, humble service... You are so generous God in equipping us FAR beyond our own limited capacity through your transforming love and power.
I read a bit in the genealogy of Jesus in the Book of Matthew as it starts, and it's a cavalcade of broken people. So much sin and junk in the generations of Jesus' line. I look at my own family line, and there are deep hurts as well -- as there are in every family... yet you saved me and have chosen to use my imperfect life to bless others. A miracle.
Frederick Buechner has written, “The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. Here is the world. Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us. It’s for you I created the universe. I love you. There’s only one catch. Like any other gift, the gift of grace can be yours only if you’ll reach out and take it. Maybe being able to reach out and take it is a gift too.”
Anyone who knows me well knows that I love the Book of Philippians. All of these quotes and passages could be summed up in these two simple verses from Chapter Two, which sum up the great tension of the Christian life:
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. (verses 12-13)
May you know and love Jesus more in 2013, and may that love and knowledge flow out in abundant blessing to others. As George Fox challenged us, may we our lives preach to "all sorts of people." Happy New Year.