Pastor’s Corner Rev. Mark Keefer, pastor, Garwin United Methodist Church Garwin, Iowa
January 3, 2014
Typically at the beginning of each New Year, we read articles that encourage us to make a new beginning in some area of our lives. The topics range from better health, to more responsible financial planning, to improvement on relationships. All these articles are interesting and usually offer fairly good ideas for self-improvement. I am often amused by some of the notions of focusing more intently on ‘who we are.’ Now, there is really nothing wrong with getting an appreciation of ‘who we are,’ but I like to believe that we can make better use of our time by being more aware of whose we are. Perhaps you have heard this self-examination phrase used before, but I became a little more contemplative of the idea after stumbling across a book that suggested we could have greater transformation and healing through ‘Self-Guided Imagery.’ It got me to thinking that some of the problems I have experienced in my life came when I was self-guided. I was thinking more of myself, than I was thinking of others. We have just concluded the season of Christmas. The whole celebration was, or should have been, about the remarkable gift of love we received in the Savior. As Isaiah prophesied, Christ was a child born to us, to be a Wonderful Counselor. He was to be named Immanuel – God with us. Wow! God with us. I am so thankful that the One, True God – the omnipotent, all-wise, all-knowing Creator of the universe – was not being self-centered, but was thinking of others. He was thinking of you and me. He wanted us to know Him better, so He sent His only Son, to be our counselor and our guide. So when I encounter articles that suggest I employ self-guided imagery to improve my life, I want to immediately suggest – we can’t do it, we can’t improve on ourselves when we try to go it on our own. The most remarkable change comes in our lives when we are guided by the One who gave His life for us. As we move beyond Christmas, we enter the season of Epiphany. From a biblical standpoint, Epiphany is the commemoration of the visit of the Magi. It is the time when those Gentile Wise Men came to realize that Jesus was the Christ for the entire world, not a select few. A secular definition of epiphany is ‘a sudden leap of understanding.’ I pray we begin, not just a new year, but each day with the epiphany, the knowledge and confidence, that we are never alone. We have a loving and forgiving comforter who can strengthen us to overcome the challenges and calamities that come into our lives. In our family celebrations at Christmas, we received gifts. The gifts were given with the idea that our lives might be improved and enriched. What good would the gift be, if all we did was admire the fancy wrapping, not bother to open the present, and then set the gift over in a corner? How improved and enriched would our lives be if we never opened that gift? The same is true with the gift of Jesus Christ. His presence in our lives will bring enrichment. Why would we ever want to leave that gift unopened? A loving God has given us the most remarkable gift that was ever given. Open the gift. Use the gift. Enjoy the refreshment and guidance that Christ will bring into your life. May your New Year be a blessed one. Join in worship each week to get to learn more about the Guide and Counselor who can enrich your year and your life.
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