Reflections to start the week
Monday, January 5, 2015
It’s become a habit, maybe on a good day a spiritual discipline, always a gift. I hop in the car, dogs in tow, and drive a few miles down to the beach to watch the sun break the horizon. It means a lot to me. It’s quiet. It’s stunningly beautiful. It’s awesome, in the true sense of the word. It puts me in my place. It offers perspective. It’s different every morning. It’s a place to focus on the things for which I’m grateful, to offer the intercessions on my heart, to focus on how I may be of service in the next 24 hours. As a discipline, it’s given me time to be mindful that each day is a gift and to challenge myself to use the days wisely. On most days, I’m pretty much alone, perhaps one or two folks in sight as I look up and down miles of beach.
The spirit led me in this ritual last Thursday, a.k.a., New Year’s Day. I had gone to bed pretty early the night before (a huge surprise to those who know me) so it was not a big deal to get up early. I expected to be alone, revelers still recovering. But as I drove down towards the beach in the moments before sunrise, cars sped by me. When I got to “my” parking lot, there were no spaces left. I had to find a new place to park That was annoying. I’m an Episcopalian, and we don’t like liturgy interrupted.
As I walked on to the beach, I realized I was not the only one on this first day of 2015 to think about starting it by watching the sun come up. The place was crowded. There were groups of young folks who had clearly not gone to bed yet, or sobered up yet, still very much in a party mood. There were couples who sat looking over the expanse of water, blankets wrapping them in a huddle. Individuals stood or sat, some with cameras, waiting and watching until the blaze broke the surface of the sea and another day began. With that new light, 2014 was behind us, not an altogether bad thing, since it’s been a rough year for many. We were all there together, a congregation celebrating the gift of a new day, a new year, with new challenge, new opportunity.
That this one sunrise marks a new year is arbitrary, I suppose. The sun is just doing what the sun has been doing for a while. The earth is spinning just like it always does. Thosee waves roll in, indifferent to whether I was watching or not. But that community of strangers on that beach on that morning at 7:12am EST was expecting something new.
On New Year’s Eve, one of the readings for the day, assigned by the lectionary in the Book of Common Prayer came from the Second Letter to the Corinthian church. It’s a reading (below) that also surfaces on Ash Wednesday, another season that has renewal as its intention. It’s a reading about God’s habit, God’s spiritual discipline, God’s ritual of making things new. St. Paul speaks of God’s ministry of reconciliation. He invites his readers (including you and me this Monday morning) to be ministers of that reconciliation. He calls us ambassadors of that work. Ambassadors for Christ. Who knew?
So as the sun rises on your new year, how will you carry out that ministry? How will you represent God’s new work in the world? How will you participate in it? How will you open yourself so that it can happen in your life, in your heart, in this day which the Lord has made, in the coming year which will be filled with challenge, opportunity and surprises.
– Jay Sidebotham
A Collect for Grace:
Lord God, Almighty and everlasting Father, you have brought us in safety to this new day: Preserve us with your mighty power, that we may not fall into sin, nor be overcome by adversity and in all we do, direct us to the fulfilling of your purpose; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting the message of reconciliation to us. So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. –II Corinthians 5:17-20
Rev. Jay Sidebotham
RenewalWorks is a ministry of Forward Movement.