The Apostle Paul wrote to his beloved Philippians, "I hold you in my heart, for all of you are my partners in God's grace…in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I long for all of you with the tender affection of Christ Jesus" (Philippians 1:7-8).
I have missed you all so much! I love Paul's little phrase, "I hold you in my heart." While I have been out, healing from my recent surgery, I have held you in my heart. It was palpable for me, the feeling of not seeing you regularly. All I can say is, "I'm back!" I look forward to it remaining that way as well.
It's a new year and time to not only think back on last year with its good and bad, happy and sad moments, but we also look forward to what this year of 2023 holds for us. How shall we approach this year? With fear, hope, longing, joy or maybe a combination thereof.
Do you make resolutions that you soon seem to break? If we just think of a few goals for the year, what would they be? We might befriend someone new, establish a definite period of time to daily spend time talking with God and listening to God's voice, or become involved in earth-friendly activities through the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy. Do you shake your head, and does your heart break for the homeless in Jamestown? People are working on this issue. One of the warming centers that has been set up is at Joy Fellowship. Pastor Mo is the person to contact about other things they do to help the homeless. I have his contact information if you're interested.
My point is, the same old New Year's resolutions just don't cut it. We cannot keep them anyway. As Martin Luther wrote in the Small Catechism:
I believe that by my own understanding or strength I cannot believe in
Jesus Christ my Lord or come to him, but instead the Holy Spirit has
called me through the gospel, enlightened me with his gifts, made me
holy and kept me in the true faith, just as he calls, gathers,
enlightens, and makes holy the whole Christian church on earth and
keeps it with Jesus Christ in the one common, true faith. Daily in this
Christian church the Holy Spirit abundantly forgives all sins—mine
and those of all believers. On the last day the Holy Spirit will raise me
and all the dead and will give to me and all believers in Christ eternal
life. This is most certainly true.
I look toward 2023 anticipating how God will work in our lives, how God will encourage us when we are down, strengthen us in our weaknesses, rejoice with us when we are blessed. What are your thoughts?
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