By Ben Smith of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,
and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,
over the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and over the young of the flock and the herd;
their life shall become like a watered garden,
and they shall never languish again.
13 Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,
and the young men and the old shall be merry.
I will turn their mourning into joy,
I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. —Jeremiah 31:12–13 NRSV
The musician and his cellist knew exactly what was about to happen. It seemed they had a little secret they were bursting to share with the crowd. It made them so obviously joyful to then let down their walls and share their expression with the audience. It was as if the hope of a new day was revealed. As tears welled in my eyes, I experienced what it was like to wake again with joyful anticipation to what lies ahead. Goosebumps appeared on my arms as I was engulfed in the delight of their talent and synergy.
This joyful anticipation is something that I want to experience every day. Like writing on my face, I want people to see that I am so joyful about life that a secret little smile appears that I don’t even know about. When I share with them the blessings I’ve received, when I compliment them on their cooking or their latest haircut, this feeling of joyful anticipation will be out there for all to see. It seems that all one has to do to be a part of it is to share oneself in the purest way possible.
There is so much to look forward to this year: birthdays, weddings, baptisms, celebrations of anniversaries, and much more. At the same time, we will no doubt experience sorrow, loss, and grief, as these are inevitable in the circle of life. These emotions and experiences will cause us to think about life and God, and maybe even motion us toward conversations about the future of Christianity in today’s world. How can we be relevant today? How is God working with us? Are we listening to God at all?
I have hope. Hope that this year will bring new opportunities to experience the Divine in ways I could not have imagined. Hope that the ministries of the church will reach more people. Hope that we might work together with greater fervor in creating communities of love and generosity. Hope that I have the courage to apologize to those I have hurt, to thank those who have given me blessings, and to forgive those who might have hurt me. Hope that I have the strength and perseverance to pursue my dreams like never before.
What do you hope for? What are your dreams? Write them down; tell someone about them; then live them out and make them real! With joyful anticipation, wake again to the light of a new day rising.
May I see your light in all life.
Invitation to Spiritual Practice
Light of God
Close your eyes, and become centered with your breath. As you breathe gently in and out, reflect on the statement, “The light of God is in all things.” The light has a bright, soft beauty and radiates God’s healing love. The light of God reaches you and permeates you with a deep sense of peace. Rest in the light as it surrounds and fills you. Thank God that you live in God’s light, and it lives in you.