January 1, 2017
We have followed the star to Bethlehem.
We have seen the baby Jesus lying in a manager.
Thank you for the journey.
Come and open our hearts to new paths of faith, hope and love.
Give us a new journey for this year.
We pray in Jesus name.
SCRIPTURE WORDS: Colossians 3:15-17
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.
Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.
And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
OPENING SONG: Give Thanks by Dick Moen
REFLECTION: Make GRATITUDE your New Year Resolution for 2017
The practice of making New Year’s resolutions goes back over 3,000 years to the ancient Babylonians. There is something about the start of a new year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start and a new beginning. The Bible does not speak for or against the concept of New Year’s resolutions. However, if a Christian determines to make a New Year’s resolution, what kind of resolution should he or she make?
The customary starting point is to focus on our imperfections but what if we approach this practice from the positive side? Most people would agree that we have a lot to be thankful for. After all, many of us live a lifestyle full of conveniences. We live in comfortable homes, have no shortage of clean water or healthy food. We have access to quality healthcare and education, and basically live a good life with a lot of freedom, safety and security.
Resolutions usually involve striving towards some greater virtue. As Rev. Elliot explains: “The illustrious Roman statesman and scholar Marcus Tullius Cicero, known for upholding republican principles, called gratitude the parent of all virtues half a century before Jesus walked the Earth. But the first empirical scientific study of gratitude wasn’t published until 2003. In a little over a decade, the relatively new field of gratitude studies has highlighted a laundry list of staggering benefits. Gratitude, it seems, is more than just an emotional sugar rush. On every front — spiritual, psychological, emotional, relational, academic, athletic — gratitude reduces the aches and pains of life.
We can learn to enjoy the seemingly insignificant blessings that we often overlook...little things like getting dressed, driving to work, going to the grocery store, sending emails, and hundreds of other routine activities of life. It’s where the majority of our time goes, so why not learn to appreciate and enjoy them? Choosing an attitude of thanksgiving not only honors God…it’s good for us!”
Consider keeping a GRATITUDE JOURNAL as your resolution for the new year – please watch the video below for an idea of how to do that.
THE GRATITUDE EXPERIMENT – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U5lZBjWDR_c
"Gratitude is inarguably central to all world religions, which might explain why religious people are twice as likely to express gratitude regularly. . . Gratitude is in our liturgical DNA, evident in countless spiritual practices such as saying grace before meals, offertory and pastoral prayers of thanks, and thanksgiving hymnody. The church’s cornerstone sacrament is sometimes referred to as the “Eucharist,” which literally means “thanksgiving.” The United Church Creed crescendos to “Thanks be to God” by design – gratitude is the finale of our faith testimony." (Elliott)
Gracious God, you have blessed us with the gift of this New Year of living and loving. Forgive us our mistakes and open our minds to new paths. Keep us aware of your presence with us as we journey. Let us step into this New Year with a joyful heart. Amen.
CLOSING SONG: I’ve got peace like a river
“The Gratitude Effect” by Rev. Tricia Elliott. The United Church Observer, October 2016. Read whole article.]
“An Attitude of Gratitude” by Joyce Meyer [https://www.joycemeyer.org/articles/ea.aspx?article=attitude_of_gratitude]