Father Constantine and Rabbi Josh reflect on the difficult year past and look forward to a brighter and more hopeful 2021.
Father Constantine Lazarakis
Happy new year everyone! As we ring in 2021, we look back on one of the most difficult and strange year in recent history. For many of us, it was the most difficult and strange year in our lifetimes. With the new year, we make a new beginning. We take stock of what’s happened and what we’ve done, and we look forward with new resolve to what we expect and what we hope to accomplish.
Of course, we have many of the same challenges on January 1 that we had on December 31, and much of what’s to come is beyond our control. Nonetheless, the new year gives us a sense of renewal, allows us glimmer of hope, and prompts us refocus our lives. We are hopeful, with the vaccine to soon be distributed and warmer weather on the way, that many of the external pressures we’ve all been experiencing will lessen…even dissipate.
But equally important to relief from the problems of the world, is relief from the problems of the heart. If we want renewal in 2021, we have to start from within. I think of the words of the Prophet David in the 50th Psalm, “Create in me a clean heart, O Lord, and renew a right spirit within me.”
Here are three ways that can nurture spiritual renewal in 2021. First, let go of resentment and forgive. Secondly, accept love, both from God and from your fellow human beings. Even as we need to forgive others, we need to accept forgiveness, in spite of our own shortcomings. Basically, don’t be so hard on yourself. Finally, learn to trust. One of the great truths expressed in all the great spiritual traditions is that we in care of our Creator. Let’s have a great 2021, with renewed love, reconciliation and trust.
Rabbi Josh Franklin
A Blessing for Radical Newness! As we welcome in the new year, many people will reflect back on the year 2020 as a time to forget. The year 2021 comes as a chance to restore some of the norms we valued in previous years. Many hope that they will be able to return social gatherings, working out in gyms, in-person communal worship, sitting in the stands at sports games, and other experiences that have vanished during the Pandemic. While I too long for the past, I can’t help but also embrace the newness that this finished year has offered us. I’m not just talking just about novelty, but radical newness.
What is radical newness? It’s when you get thrown into a life-changing situation with little warning, a dearth of understanding, and with an abundance of disarray. Radical newness is filled with excitement and anxiety. It’s comprised of possibility and immense risk. It’s an incubator of creativity, and a stimulant for doubt. Few people choose to live in this kind of space. But everybody in the world has been thrust into a time of radical newness.
The new year will perhaps revive pieces of the past that we miss, but it will surely also bring with it even more radical newness. I pray that we will be able to embrace this novelty more than we long for the past. I offer this blessing for the beginning of the new year.
God who speaks newness into our lives,
Creator of the eternally changing world,
As we are led to the place that you will show us,
Grant us the wisdom, the courage, and the faith
to weather the tumult
and to bask in the possibility of an uncertain future.
Let us go forth together
from what we know
into a place of radical newness.