This Celtic Mandala represents life, noting how days and years turn from one to another. As we have stepped from 2008 into 2009 some of us look back with joy and others with saddness; probably most of us with a mixture of the two.
As we look back we may come to understand how God has worked in and through us in joy and saddness. how we have grown against what may seem impossible odds. As we look forward we may do so with expectation, and we may do so with fear and trembling. As we look back and forward in New Years liminality I offer you this simple yet I hope profound Friday Fivein two parts:
First list five things that you remember/ treasure from 2008
1. The day in July when Alanna Sophia Faye joined our family. Put that memory right in the file with Ainlsey's birthday in 2007 and our wedding day in 2004, and you've got a file full of happiness right there.
2. Buying our first house. No, it isn't the Taj Mahal - but it's ours, and we love being homeowners (most of the time). Getting in before the market went into the crapper and all the loans went dry was nice, too.
3. Discovering that the urge I felt for campus ministry was the pull of the Holy Spirit. True, I'm still a few days short of completing my first year in campus ministry - but it's been so rewarding (and, without being arrogant, we've been so successful here) so far that I can't NOT believe God is wrapped up in this somewhere.
4. Finishing my second marathon in June. Even with a less-than-stellar training effort, I shuffled my way from Two Harbors to Duluth in less than five hours. Next June I make the big push to break 4 hours, and hopefully take the next step to Boston sometime in the next decade.
5. Feeling our family bonds grow stronger. I've mentioned this before, but it just feels as though we're becoming a family in all the good ways. Driving home from Christmas with my family in Nebraska, I was struck more than once at how 'right' it felt to be driving a van filled with my wife and our children. I'm also amazed at how much we love spending time with our siblings and friends and all their children. The move from crazy college kids to grown-up people happened so fast (said the guy in his mid-30s who took ten years to finish his degrees and actually GET A JOB.)!
Then list five things that you are looking forward to in 2009
1. Spending the summer outside with the kids. By the time May rolls around, I'm pretty sure Alanna will be close to walking and we'll be ready to put in some serious time in the backyard and at many of our local parks. That's going to be a LOT of fun.
2. Getting a dog. Hopefully soon.
3. Continuing the work of building our ministry at University Lutheran Center. Specifically, enlarging our community and finding more ways to divest my ownership of the ministry and increase the participation on the part of our students. It's a great privilege to watch them grow and discover their gifts and abilities.
4. Family time with the grandparents. Whether it's a trip to Oregon or a visit back to the farm in Nebraska, watching the girls learn about Grandma and Grandpa and Grandpa and Grandma is about as good as I could have hoped.
5. Grandma's Marathon, June 20, Duluth, Minnesota. The day I go for a sub-4:00 marathon (cue the "Rocky" theme).
Finally, Sally left this great blessing from the Iona Community for 2009, which I'm going to work into our liturgy for this Sunday, the first of 2009 for our student community:
We stand to face the future:
God behind us in the past
Christ before us; the way ahead;
Christ beside us in this moment;
Christ beneath us in our weakness;
Christ above to shield us-
beneath the shadow of his wings we are safe;
Christ between us to bind us in the unity of his love;
Christ in us equipping us with his all sufficient grace.
Thus armed and guided, and protected we face the new year.
Now we arise and go forth on the journey before us,
knowing that, where Christ leads, life is a journey home.
Therefore we travel in faith, in hope, and in love,
in the name of the Father/ Mother, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
May the blessing of God
be upon us
all this year
and into eternity. Amen.