How odd it seems to be writing 2018. If you are like I am, it usually takes a few weeks of mistakenly writing the old year before adjusting to writing the new year.

The end of one year and the beginning of another is usually a time to look back to what has been and to look forward to what can be.

To look back includes both the positive, as well as the negative, things. To look forward to what can be or should be possible is also an important exercise.

As we stand at the threshold of a brand new year, it might help us explore the answer to the above exercise by reexamining one of the classic Peanuts cartoon strips…

Lucy is in the outfield playing a baseball game. Of course, Charlie Brown is on the pitcher’s mound. Lucy calls out to him, “Hey manager, ask your catcher if he still loves me.”

Charlie Brown interrupts his pitching and says to the catcher, “She wants to know if you still love her.”

In the next frame, Charlie Brown turns to Lucy and yells, “He says no!”

Lucy wants to know why not!

Charlie Brown relays the message to Lucy again, “He says there are so many reasons, he can’t remember them all.”

This upsets Lucy who responds, “Really? That’s really depressing.”

Finally, Charlie Brown, exasperated, cries out, “Do you mind if we get on with the game?”

Lucy responds, “Game? What game?”

“The baseball game!” shouts Charlie Brown.

Lucy responds, “Oh, that’s right. I was wondering why I was standing out here.”

The beginning of a new year is a good time for each of us to answer the question, “WHY AM I STANDING OUT HERE?”

Our response to God’s initiating love is the reason we are “standing out here.” Everything we do, everything we say, should be in response to God first loving us. That is why we are here, to simply respond to God’s love.

Psalm 90:12 says, “Teach us to order our days that we might present to you a heart of wisdom.” Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans for welfare and not for calamity, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.”

We do not know what our 2018 journey will entail, but we know we do not make this journey alone. Just as God was with us in the hills and valleys of previous years, God promises to journey with us in 2018, and that is enough!

Our Western Pennsylvania Conference is in partnership with the East German Conference of the United Methodist Church. They offer this prayer for the new year…

“I said to the angel who stood at the gate of the new year: ‘Give me a light so that I can walk with safe footing toward an uncertain future.’ But he responded, ‘Just go into the darkness and lay your hand into the hand of God. That is better than a light and more secure than a known path.’ What luck that there is this hand and that there are these angels who tell me what is right and important. You do not know what is coming; you do not know who is leaving. But you are certain who is holding you and also carrying you across the abyss.” (Uwe Seidel)


Pastor Russel