The Season of Light

by Pastor Heath Howe, Family Ministry

Epiphany is the season of light. The Christ child has been born and now begins to live among us. God's light, the light of Christ, has entered the world. Beautiful. Funny how this season also falls at the same time that we are turning over the calendar, saying good-bye to the old and hello to the new, and setting resolutions, with our best intentions of keeping them. Could it be that all of this happens at once so that we remember that it is the light of Christ that leads us into all that lies ahead for us this New Year? No matter what the New Year brings, we know that Christ's light will be there, ever burning, ever lighting the way.

To help you and your family prepare for the New Year and receive the light of the Christ child, I invite you to consider sharing the following rituals.*

Preparation: Set out a calendar from the past year and a calendar for the New Year and place them on a table. Place a candle on the table and light it. Fill a blessing cup (a wine glass or other cup filled with wine or grape juice) and place it on the table.

Welcome (read aloud by oldest member present): For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Welcome to the time for honoring the past year and looking forward to the future with hope.

Prayer (read by another): God of new beginnings, thank you for this past year: the joyful moments and the growing moments, the celebrations and the defeats. Give to all the strength to entrust this New Year to you, knowing that with you there is a future filled with hope. Amen.

Bible Text (read by another): "For surely I know the plans I have for you," says the Lord, "plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope." Jeremiah 29:11

Reflections: Look at last year's calendar and share your thoughts with others, or journal on your own, answers to the following:
One of the many blessings of the past year was...
One of the disappointments of the past year was...One of the ways I have changed is...
One thing I am glad/sad to say good-bye to is...

Now look at this year's calendar. It is still fresh and free of commitments and events.
Complete answers to the following questions:
One hope I have for this year is....
One concern/fear I have is...
When I think about the year ahead I am curious about....
One thing I am excited to say hello to this year is...

Make a Resolution: From our work with Vibrant Faith Ministries we have learned four keys that help grow our faith: caring conversations, rituals and traditions, prayer, and service. Choose one of those keys you and your family will commit to practicing this year. Brainstorm ways you might practice it. Decide how the leadership and follow through will be shared. Finally, name how you will gather and reflect on how you are doing as the year goes by and what you have learned. You may discover half way through the year it is time to choose another key. Or maybe the one you have chosen now offers much more to be learned. Who knows?

Ritual Action:
Option 1 (if alone) Hold the blessing cup and say, "Trusting in God's purpose for my life, I walk in Christ's light this new year." Drink from the cup.

Option 2 (for use with a group) Pass the blessing cup, saying, (NAME), Christ lights your path this new year. Drink from the cup.
Blessing (offered by another member) May this New Year be filled with light and hope. Amen.

*This ritual was adapted from a ritual found in For Everything a Season: 75 Blessings for Daily Life by the Nilsen Family.

For other activities or ideas for practicing the four keys please go to www.vibrantfaithathome.org

For devotional tools and thoughtful reflections please consider www.ssje.org