Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!


Korean Translation

Dear Beloved Sisters and Brothers,

Greetings in the name and hope of Jesus Christ!

Happy New Year! We Christians experience many opportunities for new beginnings. As we enter into 2015, this temporal, secular new year is one of those occasions. We can use this launch of a new year to reflect on the year that has ended and to make resolutions and intentions for the next twelve months. It is a time to prayerfully ask the question, "What is God’s yearning for me, for us in the year to come?"

There are other times of new beginnings as well. Each year I experience Eastertide as a time of celebration of the resurrection of Christ and the possibilities of being open to resurrection and renewal in all of life. The powerful message of the cross is that indeed nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus and that even unspeakably challenging circumstances can be transformed.

For United Methodists July 1 brings yet another new beginning. At this traditional pastoral appointment beginning time, we are reminded that indeed a new year begins. Whether it is a continuing appointment or a new appointment, this date provides the occasion for pastor and congregation to recommit to serving Christ together.

And another "new year" happens at the beginning of the school year when churches often celebrate "homecoming" with the return of church school, youth groups, Disciple Bible study and other small groups as well as full church programming. This secular time offers to the church yet another new beginning.

And perhaps the most authentic new year for the church is Advent, the new beginning of the Christian year during which we begin a year-long remembrance in our liturgy of the gospel story and the mission of the church.

As you contemplate the "new beginnings" in your own life and in the life of the church, there may be no better way to be reminded of what it means to be a faithful servant of God than John Wesley's Covenant Prayer:

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

God calls us to be partners with the Holy Spirit in being Christ's presence to serve a troubled world. As we address such issues of poverty, integrity, disease, justice, inclusiveness and care for creation, may this powerful prayer guide your life in this and in every period of new beginnings.

In Christ's love,

Jane Allen Middleton