A Prayer for New Year’s Eve

Here’s to the elderly, their memories thick with days gone by, wistfully longing for the time when staying up until midnight or dancing until dawn was a joy. May they know their lives and their memories count.

Here’s to the one who has been left, either by death or divorce, unshed tears just behind their eyelashes, as they watch the clock longing for bedtime to come. May their tears be received, and their hearts healed.

Here’s to the couple with the newborn, eyes wide open with newness and hope, bodies aching with the tiredness a newborn brings. May they have enough sleep to love each other and their little one well.

Here’s to the couple who just met, the ones who are wondering if this is just another in a long list of disappointing relationships. May they not put their hopes in another person but in a relationship-loving God.

Here’s to the ones who just got engaged, starry-eyed with the delight of sharing a lifetime of dreams together. May the strength of their love and the mercy of God equip them for the joys and tragedies ahead.

Here’s to the one who is single in a world of couples, always wondering why they feel second best. May they walk tall in the joy of friendship, growing in God and knowing in their bones how much their lives count.

Here’s to the new arrivals, fresh off a flight from warmer places, the cold and the unfamiliar hitting them as they walk out the doors of the airport. May they be greeted with bread and tea, a place to sleep and people to help.

Here’s to those who pray for peace but suffer in war. May they be safe, and may they know that they are not alone, that there are those praying for them – that wars would end, and peace would reign.

Here’s to the suffering one, who dreads the dawn of a new day. May they be wrapped in comfort and love.

Here’s to the dying one, ready to enter eternity on the cusp of a new year. May they die knowing the love, rest, and mercy of God.

Here’s to those who are heavy with conflict, weary of fighting, broken with fractured relationships, longing for peace in their families and communities. May we know the one who is mighty counselor, everlasting God, and Prince of Peace.

Here’s to you and to me, wherever we are and whoever we are with. May the hopes and dreams of all our years be met in the One who promises his presence.

Happy New Year’s Eve.

Words to End the Year

It’s noon on December 31st and grey fog fills up the space outside, making its way indoors only to be greeted by light and warmth. New Year’s greetings from around the world have begun, the first one being from my niece in Thailand, where papaya trees dot her yard and memories of our gathering immediately after my brother’s death flood my mind.

Many of us are ready to put this year behind – but for what and toward what? Will next year really be better? We don’t know. We forge forth, willing it to be so, shocking ourselves with our strength and perseverance. Believing somehow, without evidence, that “If something so impossibly catastrophic and unimaginably awful can happen, perhaps something impossibly beautiful and impossibly redemptive can also happen.” (paraphrased from @nightbirdie as quoted in Ann Voskamp blog) And yet, that is the very definition of faith.

Rather than try to pull words from an empty place today, I want to give you some words that others have written that have resonated with me. These are words of hope and wisdom, words to start a year.

On The Word: “This year would have been crushing without God’s Word, shining like a pillar of fire, hovering like a daytime cloud, in what has often felt like a wilderness of worrry and woe. There is so much gooness to savor in this life, and learning to be ruthlessly regular in savoring it is a discipline that I know I’ll have to keep practicing, forever.” Laura Merzig Fabrycky

On Hope: “Our God doesn’t swoop in and save us at the end. He’s here for the whole journey. The whole dark and broken experience of life among messy and messed up people. He’s the friend who sticks with us when we’re not nice to be around. He’s the one who will sit with us in silence, not just offer cliched words of “comfort.” He understands that hope isn’t about twirling in the sunshine; it is about believing in light while living in utter darkness.” Tanya Crossman in When Hoping Hurts

On Loving Others: “The problem is that people we cannot stand are loved just as much as we are by a God iwth an upsetting sense of community.” Barbara Brown Taylor

On Forgiveness: “Human beings need forgiveness and kindness like we need oxygen. A nation devoid of grace immiserates its people. A church devoid of grace rebukes the cross” David French from The Dispatch

On Dwelling: “But I know the place that comes next won’t be a place of stable ground, of settling. I don’t think that’s in the cards for me – of for many of us with wandering hearts and souls that chase after wherever God calls us next. It’s not a place or people or a single purpose that brings our hearts to rest. It’s not stablitiy or control. “Thou hast made us for thyself, O lord and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee,” said St. Augustine of Hippo…..and yet, my heart feels at rest among the mysteries of what is next and who I am becoming, of where my family’s story is headed and how God will lead. I coudn’t ask for a better place to dwell than here in the unknowing with the God who knows it all.” Nicole Walters in A Place to Dwell for Restless Hearts.

On Stories and The Word: “In the beginning was the Word, after all, as I suspect is shall be in the end: stories will remain our transit points, our shorelines, and our home.” Edwidge Danticat as quoted in Plough Magazine

And so as we end this year, making the small mark in history as the year that was 2021, I am reminded of words I wrote earlier in November, words that remind us that each of us walk a hard human path, and giving grace becomes not just important, but necessary.

“We all have something. We all have something that hurts, something that takes up our thoughts and interrupts our dreams.

“And so, in this New Year, I pray – I pray that God will help us with the somethings, from cancer to depression. I pray that God will ease our pain with his presence. I pray that the broken will be mended and the jobless will find jobs. I pray that the depressed will find comfort and the grieving will have permission to mourn. I pray that brains and bodies will be mended and hearts and minds will know the grace that is sufficient. I pray that we who walk this human walk will walk it despite the somethings. That we will chase beauty in the midst of the hard, that we will find light in the darkness. I pray that we will breathe in “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,” and breathe out “Have mercy on me, a sinner.”

I pray “God, Help us with our somethings.”

And to you, who continue to read words in this space, thank you! May your hopes for the New Year transcend your helpless somethings, may you know peace, joy, and the incredible grace of God.