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Today in the Mission Yearbook

A new year with some of the same old problems


Seeking the grace to notice those who do good simply by showing up

January 1, 2021

None of the New Year’s Day metaphors — a clean slate, a do-over, a second chance, even grace itself — can quite capture the hopefulness I experience most New Year’s Day mornings. The possibilities seem almost as endless as the upcoming year’s to-do list.

It’s hard, however, to actually resolve to do anything — never mind following through on those resolutions — when the entire year stretches out farther than my eye can see, like the view from a passenger jet. The top reason for any New Year’s optimism today is, of course, our chance to say goodbye and good riddance to the death and destruction and isolation that 2020 brought about for so many of God’s children. We’ve nowhere to go but up.

Many Presbyterians have reason to be less than optimistic at the dawn of this new year. People they love are dead or sick from COVID-19 and other diseases. The pandemic has isolated all of us and frightened most of us. Jobs have been lost. The ties to our congregations and beloved church sanctuaries, classrooms and fellowship spaces feel like dim memories. Many of us are beginning to realize that old ways of doing and being the church won’t be part of our post-pandemic reality. Our hope is tempered by the grief we’ve experienced.

I am heartened by so many demonstrations of resilience during the pandemic. Congregations and pastors have put their desire for in-person gatherings on hold with an eye on the greater good that online worship accomplishes. Educators and parents work everyday miracles to help students keep up even through nontraditional instruction. Workers who must deal with us face to face — I’m thinking of grocery store employees and health-care providers here — perform their dangerous duties so their customers and patients can continue to thrive.

One resolution I can keep this New Year’s Day is to appreciate that level of dedication to duty and return it in kind. I wish you well this first day of 2021. May the God who ordered time and woke us up this morning provide us with constant presence and show us ways we can be blessings to the people with whom we will once again rub elbows with once this awful virus is gone for good.

Mike Ferguson, Editor, Presbyterian News Service

Revised Common Lectionary Readings for Friday, January 1, 2021, New Year’s Day (Year B)

First Reading Ecclesiastes 3:1-13
Psalm 8
Second Reading Revelation 21:1-6a
Gospel Matthew 25:31-46

Today’s Focus:  New Year’s Day

Let us join in prayer for: 

PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff

Yesenia Ayala, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Nadia Ayoub, Presbyterian Mission Agency

Let us pray:

Lord, thank you for new mercies and a new year. Forgive us when we fail to join you where you are working because we cannot see as you see. Strengthen our faith as your people and your church. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.