July 1 is the start of the new year in the United Methodist Church. New pastors begin their relationship with a new community July 1. And those of us being reappointed begin another year of shared ministry.
I don’t know about you, but I love having multiple new years: Jan 1, July 1, the start of the school year, the start of the liturgical year. Each one it seems provides an opportunity for reflection and self-examination, and an invitation to try again to live as our very best selves.
As we begin another year as United Methodists, we have the opportunity to consider our vows of baptism and membership in the United Methodist church. Are we living into them, or are they words long forgotten?
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the Church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations, and races?
As members of this congregation, will you faithfully participate in its ministries
by your prayers, your presence, your gifts, your service and your witness?
United Methodist New Year is another opportunity to resolve to live differently, to follow Jesus more faithfully, to pay attention to our lives of discipleship. It’s an invitation, not to immediate perfection, but rather to try again, to draw closer to God, and one another.
July 1 is also very close to another new year in our shared lives. July 4th we celebrate the birthday of our nation. More than picnics and fireworks, this important holiday invites us to reflect on our commitment to our neighbors and our country. How are we living as citizens? Are there ways in which we need to get more involved in our local, state, or national community?
So what will you resolve in the New Year? Will you make time to spend with God? Will you regularly volunteer? Will you find creative ways to live generously? Will you vow to vote this year, or engage with your representatives? Will you renew practices of personal or social holiness? (Among other things, I’m resolved to get back on track with a weekly blog post.)
I’ll see you on Sunday,