It’s interesting that the biblical stories for the first weeks of the New Year bring us to two key symbols of God. Symbols that appear throughout the Bible. These are the symbols of light and water.
The Epiphany story depicts the image of the magi following the light of the star, and the story of the baptism of Jesus brings forward the symbolic image of water – of its power to cleanse, heal and renew. Throughout the Bible, the symbol of light and water are used as metaphors for God’s guidance and love.
Walking in to a New Year can offer us a time to take stock of life and to let go of things that don’t serve us or that we find are weighing us down. However, this season is not about releasing and letting go, it is also an opportunity to decide what we will take with us as we journey forward.
I find in the week between Christmas and New Year I have this overwhelming desire to purge . . . to discard or donate what I no longer need or want and to clear the spaces that have become cluttered with yesterday’s stuff. I’ll admit that I don’t always succeed every year in doing the size of purge that I might have intended, but I do usually manage to create some free space and I usually feel a bit lighter afterward. Sometimes there are items that I look at with ambiguity, not sure if they should stay or go and that slows down the process. But what I also notice is that this exercise is an opportunity to choose what I WILL consciously keep with me as I journey forward.
Besides the practical things of life, I have a small collection of symbolic items that I have gathered over the years . . . items that remind me of my personal journey and of God’s presence around me. I have a space on a shelf in my home office where I keep these items. I don’t display them for others to see necessarily. They are mainly for my eyes. These are representative of the things that I consciously choose to bring with me as I step into the New Year.
Two of the items on my shelf are small rocks that have been smoothed by water. One of the rocks is from Lake Huron and the other is from a beach in Bona Vista, Newfoundland. It is a reminder to me of the various ways that God smooths out our roughness. Another item is a large hawk’s feather that I found on my front lawn. It reminds me of creation and of the example of the spirituality of the first peoples of this land that was grounded in creation. And I also have a soapstone heart.
This heart was carved by a young person in Kenya and is painted in various brightly coloured stripes. This carving reminds me that I am a loved child of God AND it reminds me of the diversity of God’s children. The heart also appears to have layers, which is a symbol of the complexity of life and the deepening nature of love.
These symbols ground me in my faith and in my humanity and encourage me to stop and reflect. Each new year provides me an opportunity to consciously choose to keep them with me – not only as symbols, but as messengers that speak truths to my soul.
So what are you consciously taking with you into this New Year? What symbolizes God’s love for you? What speaks to you and anchors you in God’s truth? In these first days of this New Year, I encourage you to make a place for God’s message of love to be displayed for you – a message for you to see and to experience throughout the year. May you always be reminded of your beloved-ness.
2021 Offering Envelopes
Envelopes are now available in the Church Hall.
Please contact Mel in the Church Office to arrange pick up or delivery of your envelopes.
(PAR donors will not receive envelopes for 2021 unless requested).
Offerings and Donations
There are contact-free ways to send offerings and donations to the Church:
MAIL your donation to the Church office: PO Box 137, Innerkip, ON N0J 1M0
Enroll in PAR (Pre-Authorized Remittance for automatic payment). Forms are available in the Church Hall or online. Complete the form and include a void cheque (credit card no longer accepted). Contact the Church office to arrange contact-free pick up or delivery and Mel will submit the forms:https://www.united-church.ca/community-faith/get-involved/give-regularly
We will be installing a lockable mail box in the next week or two where mail and offering envelopes can be hand delivered safely. Details to come next week.