Good Questions: The Turn of the Year

Reflections from Dr. Howell

What a peculiar year 2022 has been – but then I guess every year brings its unanticipated turns of events, personal surprises, news that baffles, hurts you didn’t see coming, and joys you sure didn’t deserve. Some churches have “Watch Night” services to usher in the New Year – but I’d bet our attendance would be pretty sluggish.

As people of faith, it’s fair to block out some time to take stock of another year in the books. Not asking if it was a fun or profitable year so much as How was 2022 with your soul? Was it a season of learning, growth, backsliding, doubting, struggle? How (in retrospect) was God active in your life this year? Silly question in one way: you breathed every day, you were beloved by God every day… so God was active. But any focused instances of grace in 2022? It could be during some dark season: you made it, you got through when you thought you might not. Or it could be the gift of a new friend, a discovery of a way to make a small but significant difference in God’s world, something or a large clump of somethings you learned about yourself, others, and God.

And we look forward. No wonder they call January “January.” The Roman god Janus was represented in gates and doorways, a god presiding over transitions, turns in time, passages, looking back and forward. At the turn of the year we too look back as we look forward. If we have any hope, it’s because “tis grace hath brought me safe thus far.”

Year-end giving is a huge thing for people – and for our church! Please remember us between now and end of the day Saturday (here’s how). What better way to express gratitude to God for being God than giving generously to God’s church? What more meaningful way to insure God’s work continues going forward than to be part of completing our mission for the year just ending? Know that I will personally be grateful – but far more importantly, God will be honored by a deep and significant gift on your part to what God is doing in the world.

Thank you in advance – and let’s pray at the turn of the year as John Wesley taught the first Methodists to pray on December 31: “I am no longer my own, but Yours. Put me to what you will. Put me to doing, put me to suffering. Let me be full, let me be empty. Let me have all things, let me have nothing. I freely and heartily yield all things to Your pleasure and disposal. And now, glorious and blessed God, You are mine, and I am yours. So be it.”