Sydney Avey

Dynamic Women — Changing Times

Preparing for the New Year

Dec 28, 2017 | Book Reviews, Faith | 0 comments

Preparing for the New Year

Reflect on the past year’s events and embrace the coming year with hope.

The year is running out, and I’m preparing for the New Year. That space between Christmas and New Year’s Day invites us to reflect on the past year’s events and spring for a chance to embrace the coming year with hope. Although the practice of setting New Year’s resolutions has come under fire recently, many of us still set a heart intention to guide us forward.

Politicians package hope in the form of contentious legislation and policies. Technologists offer us new apps to help us organize, inform, and entertain ourselves. Is there, perhaps, another path to the peace and goodwill we wish for every holiday season?

In 2018, I want to be more intentional about steering clear of evasive and distracting clamor and leaving a footprint on the path to peace. Saint Paul urges “Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you have the right response for everyone.” (Colossians 4:6 NLT) James exhorts us to plant seeds of peace. (James 3:18 NLT)  Such practice is a powerful antidote to the angry speech that pervades our culture.

Gracious and Attractive Speech

One of the titles for Jesus is Word of God. Words are expressions of thought. Jesus came to express God’s thoughts to us. Might we convey those thoughts to others graciously and attractively in both word and deed?

To extend the words of peace, love, and joy, we need to raise our conversation above platitudes. To do that, we need to get our heads out of the iCloud and improve our vocabulary. The market-focused terms that vie for our attention reduce us to the role of consumer and leave us grasping for words to express our deeper thoughts. Inspirational reading and other spiritual practices can restore our ability to communicate at heart levels.

My 2018 inspirational reading list (so far)

Silence (subtitled In the Age of Noise) by Norwegian explorer Erling Kagge. A meditation on a hard-won state of mind that can refresh and uplift people, and in some cases shift them into that creative space where art, music, poetry, and radical new ideas are born. Kagge explains why we more easily gravitate toward unsatisfying activities (checking Facebook for new posts) rather than seeking moments to enter silence. To my mind, it’s like piano practice. It requires gentle patience and discipline before you enter into the joy.

Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth, Prayers of Walter Brueggemann. An Old Testament Professor, Brueggemann began his classes with prayer. He believes that “public prayers must be “well-said” in an artful way because “what is said in one person’s speech is heard by others as candidates for their own speech.”

Gift and Task, a Year of Daily Readings and Reflects, by Walter Brueggemann. A devotional that seeks to “make room across the theological, ecclesial spectrum for  “progressives” and “evangelicals” because God addresses us all.  

What is on your list of inspirational reading for 2018? Please share!

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