New Year’s Prayer
May God make your year a happy one!
Not by shielding you from all sorrows and pain,
But by strengthening you to bear it, as it comes;
Not by making your path easy,
But by making you sturdy to travel any path;
Not by taking hardships from you,
But by taking fear from your heart;
Not by granting you unbroken sunshine,
But by keeping your face bright, even in the shadows;
Not by making your life always pleasant,
But by showing you when people and their causes need you most,
and by making you anxious to be there to help.
God’s love, peace, hope and joy to you for the year ahead.
A few months ago I received a message from a young man I knew in a former congregation I served. He is an alcoholic. I went to “Project Turnabout” where he was in treatment to hear his fifth step. After he was released I met with him weekly over lunch to see how he was doing and to hold him accountable. He knew I would ask hard questions. Those lunches weren’t always pleasant. I don’t like being the bad guy, and some days that’s what he needed.
But I enjoyed the time with him. His passion for life. His openness for change. And I believed that with God in his life he could stay sober and be a shining light in the world. He’s a great young man!
The message he wrote to me was this: “Just wanted to say you made a difference in my life. I came across a quote I’m getting tattooed in a few days that made me think of you. It’s from Oscar Wilde. Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future. Thanks for not only reminding me of this at every turn but also for opening my mind to the fact that faith is a possibility for all of us.”
When an alcoholic goes through treatment and experiences the joy of living in recovery, there is a new beginning. A fresh start. Every sinner has a future. That is every bit as true for you and me as it is for this young man. It is the promise of our baptism. It is the promise of the new year calendar.
May God bless your fresh starts and new beginnings.