Welcome to 2017 & Happy Epiphany

“…goodness is possible and abundant, despite all evidence to the contrary. We’re better collectively at publicizing and dwelling on the dark parts of life. We’re not as good at honoring and standing before the light that is interwoven with it. The potential to see it is always there.” – Kristi Tippett, 21st century

“Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds. Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.” – Anne Lamott, 21st century

Dear Members and Friends,

Happy New Year and welcome to 2017!  And Happy Epiphany!  On this day when we reach the end of the Christmas season and move into the season celebrating the shining forth of God’s light and presence into the world, you may be wondering just where that light is shining forth.  Most of the news vehicles since Christmas have spent time reflecting on the year just ended, 2016, with many bemoaning it as a horrible year and wondering whether 2017 will be better or worse.
As Kristi Tippett points out that seems to be part of our nature as modern humans, a tendency to identify and dwell on the dark and negative aspects of life.  But even when life is filled with shadow, there is beauty and light breaking forth all around us.  The challenge for us is to pay attention to the light and not just focus on the darkness.
This month can provide fertile ground for renewal of spirit and for clarity of mind and heart.  As we enter a new year it offers us a chance to “reset” life and some of our practices.  While we don’t have the snows of winter here in South Florida encouraging us to slow down, draw inward, and spend time in quiet, we can still move into such a space following the hectic schedules of family visits, parties, Christmas shopping, cooking, and decorating, as well as extra worship events.  January does offer an invitation to now slow down and focus a bit more on the inward journey of soul and spirit. 
Here are some simple suggestions for personal practices you might consider embracing this month as a means to slow down and establish new contact with the spirit of the world and of life around you.

  1. Wake early and enjoy the quiet of your home and the sunrise.
  2. Cook soup or other comfort food more often.
  3. Take a walk and notice the change of season even here in South Florida.
  4. Befriend your body; find ways to pay attention and engage in self-care.
  5. Give thanks: find what you are grateful for and acknowledge it and sit with it.

In the rest of this Newsletter you will find other opportunities this month for engaging in new practices, like Wednesday Bible Study on the Gospel of Luke; Sunday morning Prime Time discussion of Richard Rohr’s book The Naked Now; Film & a Latte outing to view the new Martin Scorcese film Silence; and more. 

In this New Year let’s “be open for business” and honor and stand before the light interwoven all around us. 

R. Steven Hudder
Pastor, Christ Congregational United Church of Christ
Palmetto Bay, Florida