As we considered this new year … where to begin a preaching and teaching theme this month … as we remain in a period of prayerful waiting, working, and looking ahead … truly the only word that captures it all is VISION.
Yes, it is perhaps a cliché and easy reach in theme development to say, “It’s the year 2020. Let’s go with vision! We’re so clever!”
But when you look at the year to come with ‘church glasses’ on, isn’t VISION really the only thing that fits? This one word says so much about who we are – people of vision, with eyes fixed on God, and prayers for the work and will that rests in the Holy hands. It is a word that brings into focus so much about what is ahead.
We say it every year, and every year it has been: This will be God’s biggest year for us. The year ahead is bringing the best of what’s to come.
January 5 : stars in their eyes
Matthew 2: 1 – 12
theme verse : For we have seen the star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage. (Mt2:2b)
The traditional text for the first Sunday of January – Epiphany Sunday, marking the arrival of the magi at the manger – is from Matthew’s gospel. We hear it every year. We sing of the wise men’s journey, and in this church we draw a ‘star word’, something to keep our eyes open for in the coming year. While we each take individual words, the church has a ‘star word’ too – in 2020, our collective call is to VISION. What do we need to see in new ways? What is waiting for us, if we will but open our eyes? What do we see around us that needs new wonder, God’s mercy, and our attention? We’ll SEE YOU in the new year!
January 12 : looking over our shoulder
In movies, when someone is being chased, it never fails that they look over the shoulder, lose their footing, and fall. But in real day-to-day life, on the usual journeys – and even the unusual ones – looking over our shoulder … remembering where we’ve been … can help us go much farther. When we have a good sense of where we’ve started, what’s behind us and inside us, we can walk (and even run) farther than we’d imagined.
January 19 : in focus
text : Mark 10: 46 – 52
theme verse : Then Jesus said to him, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ The blind man said to him, ‘My teacher, let me see again.’ (Mk 10:51)
Sometimes it’s just hard to see: our eyes are tired; we’re not sitting close enough (or we’re too close); there’s something in the way. Our vision can get interrupted, or we are moving so quickly that things just get past us. Isn’t this true in our spiritual lives, as well? What might we see differently – or perhaps even for the first time – with a fresh, clean lens? How can we reset the system and bring what is needed into focus?
January 26 : 3-Be glasses
Ephesians 3: 14 – 21
theme verse : …know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. (Eph 3:19)
If we step out on faith, following the star of Christ’s light; if we remember that a God who brought us this far will surely take us the rest of the way; if we take time at regular intervals to bring our vision into focus; can we even begin to imagine how God will guide us to be loved, believe, and become in the future?