New Year’s Blessings Bethlehem,

I would like to start this Newsletter article with a sincere and heartfelt thank you. I was absolutely blown away by the generosity of your Christmas gift. Thank you all so much. I would also like to thank you all for a truly wonderful Christmas season. Our worship services were packed; filled not only with people, but with joy and love and laughter. It was such a blessing to be a part of.

New Year’s is always an odd time. A time where we stand upon a threshold, simultaneously looking forward and looking back. Looking forward can be full of hope for a new year, a new chance to actually stick to our resolutions this time, excitement for what the new year will hold. Or it can be full of worry, or even dread for what lies ahead. Similarly, looking back can fill us with great happiness and satisfaction about how the last year panned out. Or it could be full of regret and sorrow over what all we have experienced, and the things or people we had to say goodbye to. And there you are, on New Year’s Eve with all of those things flooding your mind all at once.

My mom recently posted a cartoon on Facebook. I’m not sure what animal the characters were supposed to be, but the first says, “Why so optimistic about 2019? What do you think it will bring? Everything seems so messed up.” To this comment the second character says, “I think it will bring flowers.” The first responds by saying, “Oh yeah? Why do you think that?” To which the second replies, “Because I am planting flowers.” Now I don’t know if the artist of this cartoon is familiar with Martin Luther, but it does remind me of a quote of his – “Even if I knew that tomorrow the world the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree.”

In Jesus’ birth as a tiny, fragile, infant we learn that God enters our world in mysterious and surprising ways. In the fact that Jesus was fully human and fully divine we have assurance that God is with us in all that we experience, the good and the bad, because through Jesus, God has truly experienced all that it means to be human. And in Jesus’ death and resurrection we know that sin and death, loss and sorrow, these things will not have the final word. God will always have the last say, and God’s word is always one of a better vision for tomorrow.

We may not be able to control all of what happens to us in the next year. And none of us truly know what tomorrow will bring. But each one of us is given the gift of today, and the choice of what kind of seeds we choose to plant. We have the ability to plant seeds of love, justice, care, and compassion today, and trust in God to make the rest happen – to turn those seeds into beautiful flowers of hope and promise.

So, my hope for you and this coming year is that it be filled with flowers; the flowers of God’s work in your lives.


Pastor Sam