It’s a NEW YEAR!!!  Every New Year’s Day I remind anyone who will listen that it is my favorite holiday.  Why?  Because it’s a fresh beginning, a new start, only the Lord knows what is ahead.  Which, yes, in many ways every single day is a New Year’s Day, however, for me I take my life in these manageable snippets of one year at a time, otherwise it would all overflow and be too much to take in and let go.

For instance, 2023 was a year of both absolute blessings and heart wrenching sorrow. My husband and I were finally able to be fully reconciled within the church and received the Sacrament of the Eucharist and Marriage on February 25, 2023.  An absolute blessed day! In 2023, I also witnessed the passing of both my brother, who was 55, and my life long best friend, who was 50.  Woven within the year were other blessings of graduations, wedding ceremonies, and personal accomplishments. At the end of this year, I have taken in all I am able to handle in regards to sorrow and so it is good for me to mentally close the chapter to 2023 with all of its memories and put it away, taking only the lessons learned that will help me head into the new year.

This year, in 2024, I want to make certain I begin in unity with God. I’ve always began each day with a greeting to God, but lately that’s about all I could muster. For me, marking the new year means also getting on without the excuses of what’s held me back from growing in my relationship with God. I can’t allow the sorrows and disappointments of 2023 dictate whether I choose to walk along this next unknown path with the Lord.

There is a song that is sung by Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes called The Blessing that is based from Numbers 6:24-26.  It is a beautiful gift from the heart of the Father over all of us.

Numbers 6:24-26

“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace.”

I remember hearing this verse for the first time about 8 years ago when I went through what I thought was one of the hardest years of my life. I had lived through cancer, radiation, isolation, loss of all my belongings and home through Hurricane Harvey, death of my beloved father-in-law and impending end of my marriage.  Hearing this blessing read for the first reading made me weep. In the years to follow I kept this blessing close to my heart along with the promise of Jeremiah 29:11 

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

When I feel at my lowest in a year, I turn back to these promises to remember I am kept in His hands.  Sometimes I go back to those chapters of other years only to recall the memory of my survival, or to embrace the gift of the joy in that moment, to get me through the present year.  

The Blessing song has a few more promises from His word that I would like to leave you with today:

May His favor be upon you
And a thousand generations
And your family and your children
And their children, and their children.

May His presence go before you
And behind you, and beside you
All around you, and within you
He is with you, he is with you.

In the morning, in the evening
In your coming, and your going
In your weeping, and rejoicing
He is for you, he is for you.

All we must do is just show up for our new chapter.  May you and yours be blessed.