It is with great expectations and joy that I come to First Presbyterian Church Leavenworth. Already you have been a warm and welcoming community and I'm so thankful for your embrace. As we get to know each other and as we seek to deepen our faith together I'm struck how close we are to the New Year. With the New Year come parties and celebrations, but in our culture, even more so, we are confronted with resolutions.
For many, New Year Resolutions include something about physical well-being: exercise or weight control, quitting a bad habit or trying to begin a new better habit. But what of our faith? What of our relationship to the Divine? Yes, every Sunday is a good place to start - am I making intentional time to participate in worship every week? Is that part of or separate from my responsibilities in making coffee, or watching over the children, or from even leading worship?
I know for me, I need something to fill me up. As much as leading worship is special, it can also be very draining, and so I need to do something regular to just simply be in the presence of God - reading, praying, walking...etc.
Prayer is probably one of the easiest ways to invest in our faith. It requires no special equipment or fancy degrees. Silence, meditation, intentionally separated time and space is all that is needed. And while the first couple times when done regularly, it can feel easy, like a small vacation from the regular day to day. But as soon as the newness wears off it can feel like exercise or quitting smoking - it can feel like something we have to try and do. It becomes a discipline.
Disciplines can be hard to keep up, and yet we have generations of fellow Christians and fellow faithful that tell us again and again that when we invest in regular focuses on our faith, even when we don't want to, it builds us up. So I want to encourage you to find your own discipline this resolution season. Take a walk, spend time reading scripture, pray; whatever it is, do it regularly, put it on your calendar, make a reminder, make it simple.
And if you are interested, further into January, I will be starting a morning prayer service; I'm unsure of when that would be, got to fit it into family schedules, but when I schedule that I promise to let you know. I you would like to start that on your own, let me suggest using a premade liturgy to get you started; I'm a big fan of commonprayer.net. The authors of that site change out certain parts each day, sometimes also lifting up particular theologians and leaders.
However you respond to the beginnings of this year, I'm looking forward to journeying with each of you through another year of giving ourselves to our faith, responding to God's Grace in serving one another in love. Many, many blessings this season my siblings - may God bless us in our time together.