I love and appreciate you all. Here are todays thoughts & if I am beginning to sound “preach-y” – let me know!
December 31st, 2022
HAPPY NEW YOU
Every day is a new day but I do like to pause on holidays that attach special meaning to my life. To the church in Rome, Paul is urging the following, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” So a new you might just be a little nip and tuck transformation of what you did last year?
I am reading a wonderful book by Eric Metaxas called ‘7 Women’. It is a follow-up to his earlier book, you guessed it, ‘7 Men’. What he discovered in writing his, even earlier, biography of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, is that many of these important stories have supportive players in these women. Today I finished the account of St Maria of Paris.
Jim Forest wrote of St Maria, “Mother Maria remains an indictment of any form of Christianity that seeks Christ chiefly inside the walls of our churches.” Father Michael Plekon further stated, “…each Christian, monastic or cleric or layperson, is called to real life, life in the church and the world as we find it, an encounter with God, oneself, and the neighbor in need.”
I am complicated as are you. So was St Maria who married and divorced twice, had three children, was a brilliant poet, and artist, and took care of the homeless in Paris before the Holocaust. She was a nun who liked to smoke and drink beer. She took special care of Jews during the Holocaust and died in a Nazi gas chamber because of her generous heart. (The Nazis were losing the war but were committed to killing as many prisoners as possible.)
I will never be a nun nor smoke. I did taste beer twice – gross – but I don’t want to go someday to my passing having not noticed the people God has sent my way. A professor recently mentioned that a good way to design a future is to ask what you want said of you when age 90.
There is no current Holocaust (or maybe) but, having been born in 1952, I am very close to the history of the death of Bonhoeffer and St Maria in 1945. I remember looking at a National Geographic magazine as a child. My parents had an extensive collection. I saw a dreadful-horrific photo of a pit filled with dead bodies. As a child I knew something was wrong but what shocked me was the date on the photo. I realized that it was not 500 BC or 1500 AD but current. Atrocities were current events.
I think that is why the life of St Maria has impacted me on this day of reflection and reset.
Radical obedience can be as simple as “brighten the corner where you are” because the world is dark today. Dietrich Bonhoffer prophetically challenged the Lutheran Church of Germany and St Maria challenged the Orthodox Church. Both understood that to serve Jesus Christ with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and body – THAT is to be the church and Bride of Christ.
What are your challenges and changes? I defer to people on most small things because they don’t mean that much to me. I think it has become a habit and I don’t speak up when I should and when it matters. Last year I probably spent New Year’s Eve quietly and in a contemplative mood hoping and praying that 2022 might include three things: more time with family, retirement, and service for others in the name of Jesus. Thank you Lord for realizing my heart’s desire so now…what is next? In the last three months I’ve enjoyed travel but not for the sake of another stamp in my passport or another visa. If I never leave the USA again, other than for some form of service, I’m OK with that. The only exception might be to visit my new friends in Australia!
So be renewed and transformed. Are New Year’s Resolutions beneath you? I suggest you not conjure up a version of yourself that isn’t a real possibility but let’s take our current stories up a notch? Even if you are not a list maker because you like to be spontaneous or you can keep a list in your head better than the rest of us, MAKE A LIST? There is something about putting pen to paper and seeing your thought in print (or type). I find it gives me the greatest joy to put in writing, for others to see, that I believe Jesus to be the Son of God and my Savior, my present and my future. Hello 2023. Let’s do this thing!