A Word from Our Pastor 2013 January Renewal


RENEWAL. . .we’ve been talking about it at church for a while now, and since it is the turn of a new year, we thought it would be good to talk about renewal for each of us as individuals. . .

Many of us face January 1 as a time for resolutions – we try to create a change in our lives by adding a new discipline – more exercise is a favorite, watching what we eat, taking better care of our health in general. . .or perhaps a spiritual discipline – reading the Bible more, praying. . . We all know how difficult it is to keep resolutions. I’m not sure why it is so difficult; perhaps we are trying to do something we really (in our hearts) don’t want to do, or we have to change too many other things in our lives to make our resolution work, so it just gets too complicated. For example, to get more exercise, I’d have to get up earlier, or re-organize my day, or take my shower at a different time. . .it can seem that making one change requires a lot of other changes. . .

I would like us to think about RENEWAL in three ways – somewhat different than resolutions. . .

1. CLEAR OUT YOUR “CLUTTER” – what do you want to be liberated from? Instead adding one more thing to do, eliminate something! Eliminate something that drags you down – forcing yourself to do a dreaded task drains you of energy. I resisted having email for a long time because I knew it was going to be one more place I had to check for messages. . . sure enough, it’s often the first thing I check in the morning and the last thing I do at night (remember when there was just an answering machine?) Now most of us spend several hours online daily, with email, facebook, twitter, texts. . . There is way too much of this for me!

Most of our lives are cluttered with too much information, too many tasks, endless errands. . . Sometimes we can’t avoid certain responsibilities, but I am sure that each of us could eliminate something, or ask someone else to do it. Liberation is one of God’s gifts to us: beginning way back with the story of the Exodus, the message is that God wants us to be free. . .not only free from political and social oppression (and household drudgery), but also free to worship. How can we offer ourselves fully to worship or prayer when we are exhausted and preoccupied?

2. CONNECT – what kind of community do you want to help create? Some activities wear us out and drain us – but others lift us up and give us renewed energy. . .being part of a meaningful community – church – or family or friends can inspire us to live life to the fullest. For many of us, the Bazaar is an exhausting event, but we feel good at the end. We know we’ve done something that is valuable and made a contribution to strengthen others. God calls people to be community – not because of obligation or duty, but because of love. One of the great stories of the Bible is how God’s people traveled from exile (isolation, loneliness) to re-discover their home. How can we connect with others so that they (and we) are strengthened by the love we share, so that we create a church home that truly welcomes everyone?

3. RECONCILE! What relationships need healing? One of the most negative things in our lives is unresolved or painful relationships. Most of us have had the experience of knowing we need to ask forgiveness or seek forgiveness and yet put it off, sometimes for years. Everytime that person’s name comes up, we are reminded of this “problem.” Ignoring these things can be a source of spiritual death. Or, perhaps you’ve managed to clear up your personal relationships to date – there is still a need for each of us to be active as peacemakers in our families, communities and in the world. God calls us to be peacemakers, to help bring about reconciliation wherever we can. What can you do to bring peace to others? Reconciliation is one of God’s highest priorities – by sending Jesus, who is our peace, so that we may share that peace with others.

In January, we will be featuring each of these three paths to renewal. I hope you’ll join us. On January 20, we will have the annual New Year’s potluck party and tankobushi dance; On January 27 and February 3, we will talk about what renewal means for our congregation.

Don’t miss ringing in the new year with us at BMUC!