For some, the end of 2016 means stocking up on champagne and chips.  For others, this is the time to reflect on the old year, and make plans for the coming year.  Some of us are letting out a sigh of relief at the end of a tough year, and others are dreading the year to come.

What plans, dreams, worries or intentions are leading you into the brand new year ahead of us?  Our blogging friends have wisdom to share.

Ruth Everhart shares her practice of choosing a personally meaningful phrase to guide her through each new year.  Past choices have included “Be Lighthearted and Gracious,” while doing the difficult work of writing her memoir, Ruined.  Other years have been guided by “Do the Work,” and “Love the Work.”  She’s pondering the right phrase for 2017.  What would yours be, if you chose one?

At The Wisdom Years, Mary Elyn Bahlert reminds us of the beauty of looking back at our lives, turning our memories over to see them from different angles.  She writes, “The longest night of darkness has passed, and we begin again the cycle of new light that begins at winter solstice.  The seasons pass quickly…Now that I have entered the wisdom years, I remember other times of my life…Sometimes I choose to look into those events and times again, looking more carefully, from a distance, a distance in time.  I can see my life as seasons, also.”

At Creo in Dios, Susan Stabile leads us away from thinking about accomplishment toward the practice of contentment.  She notes that “Hygge” is a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment and well-being.”  It has also been described as “a feeling or mood that comes taking genuine pleasure in making ordinary, every day moments beautiful or special,” and “the art of creating intimacy, either with yourself, friends and your home.”  Perhaps that’s what we should cultivate in 2017.

If you’re pondering a New Year’s resolution related to your health, at The Thoughtful Pastor, Christy Thomas reveals that walking changed her life this year.  She walked thousands of miles, using the walks as prayer time.  Along the way, she came to understand many things, including the truth that “Losing weight and keeping it off is the privilege of the well-to-do.”

While juggling the demanding work of parenting small children, Messy Jesus Business also claims our attention, and reveals the presence of the holy.  Amy Nee-Walker reflects on the fact that Jesus was nursed by his mother, which prompts a thought about how “Jesus, in his earthly lifetime, lived both sides of the coin of giving and receiving.  This is something we all share with him and each other.”  The coming year invites us all to nurse the presence of Christ – to feed and nurture the divine presence in the world, in our work as parents or friends or pastors, or all of the above.

At the year’s close, April Yamasaki invites us toward gratitude to God with a prayer that will work for a gathering of friends, worship or private reading.

New Year blessings to all!  Let us know your own reflections on 2016, and plans, intentions and prayers for 2017 in the comments section below.


Rev. Mary Austin is the pastor of Westminster Church of Detroit, a diverse Presbyterian church.  Her greatest spiritual lessons come from being the parent of a teenager.  She blogs from time to time at Stained Glass in the City.


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