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The word is... renew

January 13, 2017

...well said

Ancient church mothers and fathers often greeted one another with the phrase, “Give me a word.” This greeting led to the sharing of insights and wisdom. Today we continue this tradition with this monthly column.

renew

By Rev. Mandy Sayers
Pastor, Covenant UMC, Gaithersburg

I don’t know about you, but for me, 2016 left a lot to be desired on a variety of fronts. Work, a.k.a., pastoring, was great. But many of my teenage musical influences and people I thought were too young to die were called home to glory. I’m still dealing with the aftermath of the most surreal election of my lifetime. I don’t think I’m strong enough to even write about it yet.

Now, here it is, 2017, and several of my friends see little reason for hope that change, helpful change, is going to come.

Where is hope to come from? Is it “Morning in America?” as Maya Angelou read at Clinton’s inauguration? Are “Happy Days” here again, as Reagan assured us? Is there a reason to say, “Yes, we can” as Obama cheered?

What’s left is “Drain the swamp, build the wall,” and scary tweets and hateful words, and some days I just want to eat carbs and stay in bed. “Renew” feels like just a brand of carpet cleaner or maybe some strawberry-scented shampoo.

But what if the turning of the year, and our own renewal, does not depend on our level of optimism about politics or our own abilities to keep resolutions? What if our renewal as children of God depends on the help that comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth? God’s mercies, new every morning, Christ’s call to follow, Christ’s command to forgive (and his offer of forgiveness) ...all these things are gifts from God. It is also God’s gift to get to see the start of a new calendar year.

It’s time to be renewed. (Note the passive; something God does for us). And then it’s time to share God’s renewal with others. Do you need a new beginning? God has one ready for you, and for all of us.

Could it be that the Holy Spirit is still moving and getting ready to move in our churches, in our relationships, in our nation? God’s new life means the status quo ain’t what it used to be, friends.

As Easter people, we would be foolish to discount what God can do. This God of the empty tomb isn’t pessimistic about 2017. After all, this God whispers to all our inertia, our fear, and our crossed arms of doubt and exclusion: “Behold, I am making all things new.”

By Rev. Daryl Williams
Pastor, St. Paul UMC, Oxon Hill

This time last year, my parents asked me to do them a favor. They were about to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary and wanted me to renew their vows. It was amazing to me for my parents to ask such a thing.

You see, I have never been my parent’s pastor. I have never been their spiritual advisor or congregational leader, either. I have always just been their dutiful, watchful son.

It was my parents who showed me what it meant to be married. It was my parents who showed me what “for better or worse” looked like, so it was almost surreal to be the person asked to help them renew their vows. Since I wasn’t there the first time they said those vows, it was awesome to help them 50 years later.

It was preparing for their wedding that got me thinking about what it meant to renew something. After 50 years, what would it mean for my parents to renew their vows? So I wondered what was the point of going to all of this trouble. Was it just to have a nice party and gather friends together? Was it just a way to get some new wedding presents? Why go through all this planning, expense, and pretense for something that is already said and done. So I did what any curious child would do: I simply asked.

I asked my parents why they were going through the trouble 50 years later, and their answer was simple yet profound. They told me, “We are doing it so we can say “YES” again.”

They wanted to say that after all this time, they would still choose each other. They wanted to say that after all the ups and downs in marriage, they would say yes to do it all over again. So last March, I stood in a ballroom and helped my parents say yes again.

As we enter into a new year, what do you need to say yes to again? This year, I have decided to say yes to faith all over again. I have decided to renew the faith that I have that all things are possible with God. I choose to say yes again to hope. I choose to still believe that there is better on the horizon after this and that the best is yet to come.

Finally, I choose to say yes again to love. I choose to love God, love all of God’s people and always love myself. No matter what the world looks like or what is happening around you, you can always choose to renew and say yes again.

What will you renew and say “yes” to this year?

 

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