God with us...through 2020! (An Examen Sunday)

God With Us  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  24:31
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Today we look back on 2020 and remember God's faithfulness. We seek God's voice and invitation into 2021, anticipating God's love to be present in our lives and God's calling for action to lead us into the world.

Revised Common Lectionary 1-3-2021: Second Sunday after Christmas

Jeremiah 31:7–14

7For thus says the LORD:

Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,

and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;

proclaim, give praise, and say,

“Save, O LORD, your people,

the remnant of Israel.”

8See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,

and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

among them the blind and the lame,

those with child and those in labor, together;

a great company, they shall return here.

9With weeping they shall come,

and with consolations I will lead them back,

I will let them walk by brooks of water,

in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;

for I have become a father to Israel,

and Ephraim is my firstborn.

10Hear the word of the LORD, O nations,

and declare it in the coastlands far away;

say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,

and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”

11For the LORD has ransomed Jacob,

and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.

12They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,

and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the LORD,

over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

their life shall become like a watered garden,

and they shall never languish again.

13Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,

and the young men and the old shall be merry.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.

14I will give the priests their fill of fatness,

and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,

says the LORD.

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2021. What a year we have had. And it is by the grace and truth we find in Christ that we have been sustained through the most strenuous of years, the most unexpected and disheartening of seasons that has been the COVID-19 era.
We are now in the final days of the season of Christmas, or as we call it in the liturgical calendar, Christmastide. These twelve days of Christmas are for celebrating, feasting, and remembering the faithfulness of God as we look ahead to this new year.
I’ve decided, also, that we continue to occupy a new special liturgical season: Pandemictide. Pandemictide is the season of waiting, of longing, of praying for healing, for remembering all our blessings amidst such hardship and upheaval.
And so, as the season of Pandemictide and Christmastide meet on a Sunday like this, we cycle through our familiar rhythms of worship and hope to find some sense of normalcy and stability in Christ our Savior.
The passage from John this morning reminds us: The Word became flesh and lived among us…God is with us. That is what we must remember: God became enfleshed and was and is with us.
And our Jeremiah text also reminds us of God’s faithful presence, as the people remember their weeping and dispersion…and yet God calls them back home “with consolations”, making a straight path beside brooks of water and blessings for God’s people at home in Zion, the promised land.
Today, on this Sunday of Christmastide and Pandemictide, we are going to repeat a practice we’ve participated in before, a practice of Examen, looking back on the year and looking forward into what God is calling us toward.
For those of you who are unfamiliar, the Prayer of Examen is a practice that originated with St. Ignatius of Loyola in formal use, a prayer of contemplation that helps us remember a season of life, or even just a day. We take steps through 5 movements, where we recall the times God has been close to us (moments of consolation) and times God has felt distant (moments of desolation) and the spend time in prayer with God about what God is teaching us and helping us to be aware of from these times. This is a practice you can use at the end of the day, or, as we do, at the beginning of a new year, looking back and remembering God’s faithfulness.
So, grab a piece of paper or a journal. And I’ll guide us through this time.
Review of the Year An Examen for 2020
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