Advent begins our church year, New Year’s Day begins our calendar year, and our baptism begins our day fresh and forgiven and still loved by God. Day after day after day.
Recently I was pondering “success” and what that means. Someone made the comment that they were certain I wanted my children to be “successful.” I paused and said, “Define successful.”
Do I want my children to be wealthy with prestigious and good-paying jobs? Not necessarily. My hope has always been that our daughters would discover and celebrate the gifts God has given them to use in service to the world. My prayer has always been that our daughters would know with certainty the peace, power, and presence of the Holy Spirit filling and surrounding them so they could meet the world confidently and with joy. That defines success to me. We are all called to a daily ministry of service, from a doctor to the holy calling of a mother raising her children at home. How do we serve God joyfully in whatever work God has called us to do?
Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”
I absolutely believe that God has a plan for each of us to bless the world. And I understand Scripture to say that God equips us to do God’s work. It is much more often we who shy away from the power that God has given us through our baptism to do God’s work in the world. It can be easier than admitting that God has called us to do amazing things in the world!
Marianne Williamson, in A Return to Love, expressed it this way:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small doesn’t serve the world.
There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We are born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It’s not just in some of us, it’s in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine,
we unconsciously give other
people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.”
So as we begin turning the pages of another year of our life, how will we live it?
In the words of poet Mary Oliver, “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”