One of the most common themes in the Bible and our faith tradition is that of of renewal, second chances, and fresh starts. This is something many in our world are longing for as 2016 was a difficult year filled with conflict, division, racism, shootings, and more. It's for these reasons that 2017 represents a chance for the sun to rise on a new day.
In the book of Lamentations we see that these experiences are not exclusive to our current context. Traditionally written by the prophet Jeremiah, this emotion-filled book was created in response to the destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians in the 500s BC. Much of the language of this text is overflowing with anguish and grief. In fact, the title of the book comes from the Hebrew word ekah, which can be translated “Alas!” or “How,” giving the sense of weeping or lamenting over some sad event. No doubt many of us can relate to these emotions as we look at the state of our world.
But that's not all that the book of Lamentations contains.
Smack dab in the midst of all the grief, the author pens these words that speak to the possibility of newness and the hope of God's forever love:
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases,
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul that seeks him."
With this in mind we'd like to offer two New Years prayers to help us receive God's mercies and surrender the future to God as we enter a new chapter in our stories. Also, we're going to experiment in 2017 with an online common prayer group. Our hope is that no matter where you are at on your journey and no matter what the next year may bring, we will trust that God is loving and near no matter what.
A Prayer for the New Year
Remember us, O God;
from age to age be our comforter.
You have given us the wonder of time,
blessings in days and nights, seasons and years.
Bless your children at the turning of the year
and fill the months ahead with the bright hope
that is ours in the coming of Christ.
The Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that You will make all things right
if I surrender to Your Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with You
Forever in the next.
New Years Common Prayer Experiment:
This year, we're going to start a Facebook group where we post devotionals and prayers about every day. This will be an interactive group where members can post their own reflections, prayers, questions, or thoughts. It'll be based on the daily prayers and devotionals from the book Common Prayer a Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. Below are the ways you can follow along with us:
In our Facebook group here:
On the Common Prayer website here:
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