Hope for the New Year
I am laying here in bed in the first quiet waking hours of the New Year thinking about what I want to accomplish over the next 365 days. Last night, my sister-in-law, Carolyn - who is visiting from Atlanta - and I spent a praised-filled night at church - a place I always go to ring in the New Year. I tend not to go to NYE parties - there is so much pressure for midnight to be just perfect. The snapshot of what you did when the clock struck 12 will forever be etched in history - for better or worse. In church, it’s all about, not only the night but, your entire life and it never disappoints. The service is uplifting and my church is like a party itself: our Bishop always has an incredible message that leaves me so inspired. Our choir and musical guests make you feel as though you have been to a concert - we get up and dance and right after we count down to the New Year, the congregation breaks out in a “step” in the aisles. I always leave in a great mood and and ready to take on the New Year.
Last night, when we got to church, you could tell the general feeling among people was a little subdued. There seemed to be a general consensus that 2016 had been, for various reasons, a rough one for many. And, from the conversations with those around me, it seemed like there wasn’t much hope for 2017 to be much better. When the choir sang, “It’s Gonna Be Alright”, it touched many in a particularly emotional way.
Then, came the message and, as always, our Bishop was right on point. He talked about hope and being of service to others. Everyone was given a small brown paper bag that was printed with the words: "Serve With Gladness".
Inside was a long card that gave you ideas on what you could put in the bag that would help others:
- A Blessing Bag: add toiletries, non-perishable snacks and give to someone living on the street.
- Gift Cards: Bless a Neighbor, co-worker or complete stranger with a gift card from Starbucks, Target, Vons, etc.
- Shoes That Fit: Is your closet busting over with shoes? Donate a pair to someone in need
- Date Night: Know a young couple with children? Give the the gift of a quiet night out, without kids.
- Gift the Word - Even in the age of electronic bibles and phone apps, someone can be blessed by their very own print Bible
- Just What the Doctor Ordered: Take a senior citizen to their appointment or take them to get their prescriptions
The message of the night was clear: 2017 is about being of service to those who are less fortunate. And, when you live outside of yourself to make the world a better place, HOPE springs eternal. Happy New Year!