Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The holidays have come and gone, packages have been opened, gifts have been exchanged, the turkey is on its last leg (hopefully), and friends and family have traveled home. Now as we reflect on 2017, we discover that it was filled with joy, sorrow, and all things in between.

Over the Christmas holidays, a good friend died. Although I was tremendously sad because disease had taken its toll on her too soon, I felt an overwhelming sense of joy. Sounds crazy to some, I suppose. But I know where she is, and that gives me comfort and peace.

My friend lived her life as a servant to her faith. She encouraged those around her to be happy, joyous, and free. She found life to be an adventure to enjoy. It wasn’t that she never had heartache; she had her share. But she saw beyond the struggles and messiness of life and encouraged those around her to be the people God created them to be. And now, she rests in the eternal radiance of God, complete and whole.

As with all years, the old year has ended and the New Year begins.  Let us welcome the new birth of 2018 with its infinite possibilities and promises of hope. Let us be God’s light in this world working to bring peace and joy to those around us. And let us celebrate those who came before and anticipate gladly those to come. My friend would like that.

Prayer:  Holy God of grace and glory, shine your light on each of us today so that we may bring peace and joy to those around us. Help us to enjoy life and to find the adventure in every day. Most of all empower us to love and encourage one another. In your most holy name, Amen.