January 2019 Musings: Hope

With the hustle and bustle of Christmas behind us it is time to look ahead to another year. Advent is the season of Hope. Hope for a Savior and Hope for salvation. There may be an emotional letdown that follows Christmas causing us to loose sight of that Hope as we enter the New Year.

While our hope is in God’s Grace through Christ we each have within us the capacity to generate hope. It’s critical that we be intentional about nurturing hope in our lives and the lives of those around us. I have listed below some things to try to generate hope in our lives. In addition to your daily prayer and Bible study try these steps yourself and teach them to your children and grandchildren. Do some of these as a family. Know that with God’s help it is within your control to become more hopeful.

Be kind to yourself. Think about what you need most, and then do it. Is it a cup of tea, a brisk walk, some downtime, quiet music, a little rest, or reading the Bible or other inspirational literature? Whatever it is, grant yourself permission to do it, even for just a few minutes.

Create a 5-minute silence ritual every day. Light a candle and pray, meditate or reflect. Reflecting in front of a lit candle is extremely nurturing and healing. Reading a favorite Psalm beforehand might be helpful. This may be the one time of day when you feel connected to your own soul, and perhaps even God.

Curtail your intake of news. Over saturation with news right now is detrimental to emotional health. If you read the newspaper in the morning, let that be enough.  Consider putting a complete moratorium on news at least once a week. Anything you missed will be there tomorrow. Drastically curtail any news you let your children watch.

Treat each day like the precious gift from God that it is. Be vigilant in looking for things and people to appreciate.

Every morning, afternoon and night, take a 30-second break to offer a prayer of gratitude. Who and what are you grateful for? Make a list. Even though the world has its problems, the sun still rises in the sky each morning, and we are awake and alive when we get out of bed. Thank God for that.

Express love tangibly. Hugs, words, notes, acts of kindness — be indiscriminately generous with all of them. Surprise a friend with a hug. Hug and kiss your children or grandchildren longer and with deeper feeling. If you like how the clerk treated you in the store, thank her. Leave notes expressing gratitude for kind acts.  Doing all of this is an effective way of reflecting God’s Love.

Make a difference. Each time we make a difference in the lives of others, we create hope in ourselves. By reaching out to someone in need, you add a little more peace and hope to the world. (Adapted, in part, from Naomi Drew – beliefnet.com.)

Have a great Grace filled New Year and keep praying.

Peace, Joy, & Hope

Pastor Mark

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