Elder Susan B. Orr
1 Timothy 4:10
“For to this end we toil and struggle, because we have our hope set on the living God, who is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.”
Reflection: On Epiphany this year, I was given my first “Star Word” by a Facebook friend. The premise is this: the magi followed the star to find baby Jesus, bringing their gifts. We too seek Jesus, trusting that the Spirit can and does use many signs (stars) to guide us closer to God. A “star word,” then, gives us one principle or goal to focus on throughout the year.
I was intrigued by the thought of having a guiding star word for 2020, and imagined how that might help me to focus on an aspect of our spiritual calling. I waited with anticipation for my FB friend to send me my word. I envisioned that the word might be kindness, joy, love, serve — you know, good churchy words. And then my word arrived: “Acceptance.” Huh? What kind of word is that? I was kind of grumbly about the whole thing, but I still propped that purple “Acceptance” star right next to my computer.
As the days and months unfolded and the Covid-19 pandemic made its unwelcome appearance, my carefully planned life began to unravel with cancellations of work-related opportunities and anticipated travel, and with separation from my loved ones. With each personal disappointment, my eye would rest upon my star word, encouraging me to take a deep breath, exhale and accept. As the news around the world revealed the pain and suffering caused by this new coronavirus, I struggled to accept the unknown science that couldn’t define why, when or how we would make it through. Yet even through the shadow of this valley of the pandemic, acts of kindness, care, creativity and ingenuity continually shone a light on our ability to thrive as a people through those extraordinarily difficult days.
Acceptance is not a flashy word. But sometimes, acceptance of the things we cannot change is essential to finding a path forward and doing the healing work that we are called to do. Although I did not want to hear it, that star word came at the right time to teach me that, although we toil and struggle, our hope is set on the living God who is the Savior of all people. I can accept that.
Practice for Peacemakers: Today, if there is a time when you are feeling overwhelmed or not in control, take a moment to breathe in deeply, exhale, and accept. Hear these words: “You are God’s beloved child.” Then, see if you can approach the issue with new strength and focus.
Prayer: Gracious, loving and faithful God, we are grateful for the guidance you provide us as we live our ordinary lives. Pour your power over us. Let it wash us, renew us and enable us to discern your will, that “thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven.” Grant us wisdom and courage — and, when we need it, acceptance — as we face this hour and the next. Amen.
Susan B. Orr serves as acting presbytery leader for the Presbytery of Genesee Valley and presbytery leader for the Presbytery of Geneva. She will be co-directing the Mosaic of Peace program in 2021.
This year’s Season of Peace Resources are designed to help participants explore practices for building peace on every scale. From the personal level to global issues, these reflections and prayers will help grow the faith and witness of the whole church. Throughout the 29 days of the 2020 Season of Peace, we are invited to reflect upon:
Week 1 September 6–12: Peace Within
Week 2 September 13–19: Peace in Relationships
Week 3 September 20–26: Peace in Community
Week 4 September 27–October 3: Peace in the World
Final Day October 4: Holistic Peacemaking