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What Do We Bring to the Lord in This New Year?

January 4, 2020

We saw this fellow along with a herd of Bull Elk hanging out in Rocky. Rut was over and the guys were once more friends! This quiet seemed to be a gift to him and it makes me think about what gift I bring to Jesus in response to the gift he has given me.

What gift do I bring… what gift do we bring… this question has taken on a whole different sitz im leben (Setting in Life… a German phrase that we became very familiar with in our study of Scripture in Seminary, especially under my Old Testament Professor Art Merrill) since I put the bulletin together in early December.

Initially I was thinking of the Feast of the Epiphany and the visit of the Magi. I was also thinking of it in terms of the passage from Isaiah 60, especially verses one through three.

Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD has risen upon you. For darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the LORD will arise upon you, and his glory will appear over you. Nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your dawn.

Just as the Magi came bearing gifts… just as the Shepherds came bearing the gift of the Angel’s tidings of joy… I was contemplating what we are called to bring to the Lord as Christ-followers. These words of Howard Thurman from his book The Mood of Christmas & Other Celebrations also came to my mind.

When the song of the angels is stilled,

When the star in the sky is gone,

When the kings and princes are home,

When the shepherds are back with their flock,

The work of Christmas begins:

To find the lost,

To heal the broken,

To feed the hungry,

To release the prisoner,

To rebuild the nations,

To bring peace among brothers [and sisters],

To make music in the heart.

I was contemplating all of this until this week. As the bombs fell… as the rockets were fired… as threats and counter threats continue to be made… as sabers are rattled by those who will never bear the cost of their words and actions in their own bodies… I wonder what I can possibly bring to the Lord in this New Year.

I bring my fears… I bring my tears… I bring my hopes… I bring my faith and trust in the Prince of Peace… I come before him with my heart and my head and my hands open…

Tomorrow we will gather around the Table of the Lord to celebrate the first Communion service of this New Year. As a part of this liturgy, I will say the following:

“Jesus says: Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

And

“I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. Everything that the Father gives me will come to me, and anyone who comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:35, 37)

Two words that echo in my heart over and over which I repeat in the liturgy are: anyone, anyone who comes to me I will never, never drive away. Perhaps that is the gift I can bring to the Lord in this new year. Perhaps I can bring to the Lord my heart… my tears… my fears… my hopes… my very life!

Perhaps I can make a difference in a world filled with hatred, warfare, greed, and division. Perhaps this is the work of Christmas I am called to do. This and every day I am called to do this work. Will you join me?

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