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“A Love-of-God New Year”

Approaching a new calendar year, 2017, I’ve been thinking about time. I’ve been wondering how 2016 seems to have flown by so swiftly for me. I’ve been wondering if there’s anything I can do that might possibly help 2017 seem a bit slower for me. In all my wondering, I pray for a year of grace and blessing, for all of us.

Time is a precious gift to be cherished. As time progresses, we can be assured that God will bless us. Though we don’t know the details of what lies ahead, God is already there. As time flows, we will experience real moments of God’s presence and love.

There are, of course, some negative sides of time. As time flows, we experience sickness, our bodies age, and so on. Ones we love will die, we’ll grieve, we’ll hurt. And someplace out there, in future time, lies our own death. The beauty of faith is that God will be there in every weakness, illness, grief, and death.

Carolina Sandell Berg (she liked to be called “Lina”) experienced a tragedy which profoundly affected the course of her life. At the age of 26, she was with her father, a Swedish Lutheran pastor, crossing a lake. A sudden storm resulted in her father being thrown overboard, before her eyes. Her father drowned. Her mother died two years later. Having experienced both the grace and pain of the passage of time, Lina wrote about 650 hymns. You might recognize these words from one of her hymns: “Neither life nor death shall ever from the Lord His children sever; unto them His grace He showeth, and their sorrows all He knoweth.”

That verse is from a hymn titled, “Children of the Heavenly Father.” It demonstrates a faith that, no matter what happens in our trip though time, God’s love is always with. “Nothing in all creation,” wrote St. Paul in the Bible, “can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

What, EXACTLY, lies ahead for you in 2017? You may have some idea, you may have many plans. There will be some surprises (both happy and sad). But, through faith, there is really only ONE exact thing that you can be sure of in 2017: the love of God in Christ Jesus.

A Happy New Year? A Sad New Year? Some of each?

In all things, my hope for you is a Love-of-God New Year.

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