Monthly Archives: December 2007

Weekly Devotional for December 27, 2007

Brevity! A most welcome post-Christmas Day word has to be brevity. After the hours spent preparing, decorating, shopping, cooking, and digging out from the Christmas gift exchange debris, a brief word, then … QUIET … a moment of silence, preferably alone is itself a precious gift. So, I’ll be brief.

Inevitably, the next few days will find us reviewing the year past and looking to the year to come. Formal resolutions may or may not be part of your approach to turning the calendar to a new year. I offer the following criteria and a prayer for assessing where you have traveled and where you are going in your journey of following Jesus.

The words of Jesus to the crowd on the mountainside will serve exceptionally well as a measuring stick for our past and future attitudes and actions:

Don’t worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. {32} Why be like the [unbelievers] who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, {33} and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. {34} “So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today. (Matthew 6:31-34 NLT)

That really is the only resolution anyone needs to make. What a magnificently different year we would find before us, if only we focused our attention and efforts on doing everything God’s way!

A prayer from around 1540 is still one that can prepare us for living as followers of Jesus in 2008. Ignatius of Loyola was one of the founders of the Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. The stated purpose of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) is simply to be followers of Jesus. Their work emphasizes education for the task of proclaiming the gospel, missionary service, and seeking peace and justice. A prayer of Ignatius can set our hearts and minds on the proper path for approaching each new day, let alone the new year:

Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve :
to give, and not to count the cost,
to fight, and not to heed the wounds,
to toil, and not to seek for rest,
to labor, and not to ask for any reward,
save that of knowing that we do your will. (Ignatius of Loyola)

Imagine how the workplace, school, neighborhood, family – or the world – would be different, if you and others began each day with that prayer and purpose.

What is your assessment of 2007? What pursuits have occupied your thoughts? How often have you made following Jesus the organizing goal of your actions? Visualize yourself consciously striving to understand and to put into action the grace, love, and purpose you receive through faith in Jesus every coming day. What a year 2008 will be!

J. Edward Culpepper, Ph.D.