I love the week between Christmas and New Year’s…39 years ago today, I married my best friend and we are celebrating love and life and taking stock of what knowing each other for over 40 years means. I keep saying this can’t be possible since I’m only 35…but the calendar and my driver’s license don’t lie.
I love that we are in the midst of the 12 Days of Christmas! The Christmas Season! I just wish more people would take the time to enjoy these days as days of celebration and reflection, to use this time as a time to sit and look at the tree with all its lights, to rest, and to process all the gifts of the year. Instead in America, we tend to jump right back into work and “real life” and start the race again.
I love that the Christmas Story doesn’t end with the Shepherds. We get Simeon and Anna to remind us that waiting is worth it. They both have waited and worshiped and held to the promise of the Messiah. Then they get to experience the PROMISE in the flesh! He cries real tears and smiles real smiles and needs a burp after he eats! God is really with us and his name is JESUS.
Pete Grieg of 24/7 Prayer posted on Instagram this week and suggested doing an end-of-the-year exam. What could it look like to take the time to reflect on the year that has passed to move into the NEW YEAR with joy and peace? I’d suggest getting together your journals, your photos from the year, and any other things that you do that might help you ponder and look back on the past several months. If you knit, or do a craft/art you might pick several of your creations to help you reflect on the year. Bring some paper and a pen or your journal and art supplies if you like creating things. You might even choose to collage from magazines as a way to process your year.
SIT IN LOVE: Pick a comfortable spot. Light a candle. Imagine yourself in the presence of Jesus.
Picture Jesus looking at you and smiling. How does that feel?
PRACTICE GRATITUDE: Now take time to reflect on the beautiful gifts of this past year. As Father Michael Sparough says…not a list of things but rather a savoring of the gifts in your life…Where have you seen the goodness of God? In people, in places, in yourself? Think about places you’ve been and opportunities you’ve had. Look back through your journals, your photographs, your calendar. LOOK FOR GOOD THINGS, THE GIFTS! Take time to be grateful. You might make a list, create a collage, or some other response to these good gifts. Thank Jesus for these amazing things, both big and small.
PROCESS GRIEF: There have been so many hard things this year. So much loss. So much pain. Take the time to look back and feel those feelings. You don’t have to hold back with Jesus. He knows. You can yell, cry, or scream it out if you need to. Just forewarn your housemates of what you are doing ahead of time. I like having a pitcher of water and a large container to pour out my tears to God to express my grief. After taking some time to reflect on the grief and pain of your year, give these things to Jesus to hold for you.
REPENTANCE: Reflect on the things you have done this year that you need to say sorry for and ask Jesus to forgive you. This isn’t about making a list or beating yourself up for things. Remember that Jesus is sitting with you and He is smiling at you! JESUS LOVES YOU. Just sit with Jesus and allow him to love you during things you need help with…like anger, worry judgment self-criticism and gossip, or fear….Give these to Jesus to hold and REST in his LOVE.
LOOK FORWARD TO HOPE! What are the good things, the things you want to take into this year ahead? In our Epiphany retreat a couple of years ago, Christine Sine reminds us to consider the intentions, rather than resolutions, we want in the new year.
What things do you want to take with you on your journey into the NEW YEAR? What things did you notice as you reflected on this year that you’d like to keep going? ASK JESUS TO SHOW YOU. As you look ahead, ask Jesus for the GRACE you need for the new year. Feel His loving arms surrounding you!
You could also create a year-end playlist to help you celebrate and process the year.
Lord Jesus! Today I am grateful for Love and Life and Friends.
I am grateful for breath, for running water, heat and electricity that I too often take for granted.
Jesus your love is truly an amazing gift I get to open daily. Thank you for loving me flaws and all! Help me to be more aware of your love and share that love with both friend and stranger. Help me to always seek and work for justice and peace in our broken world. In your beautiful name! AMEN