The Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt: This month shall mark for you the beginning of months; it shall be the first month of the year for you.
Exodus 12: 1
We often say, for good reason, that September is the first month of the year for us, marking the season of beginnings and beginning again. This September, for many, marks the beginning of a new reality brought on by unexpected events. Certainly that’s true for those whose lives have been forever changed by wind, rain, and fire. Perhaps it’s true for you, due to circumstances beyond your control or because a new opportunity has suddenly presented itself. It’s true for me.
In the first days of a new reality, it’s comforting to remember disorientation is normal. We’re not expected to know the path forward right away. Rather, it’s a time for faith, asking God to illumine our path and inviting Jesus to be our companion and guide. It’s a time to pay attention to our intuition alongside our logic; and to seek the wisdom of others who have walked the path we find ourselves on.
The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr, in his daily meditation for September 7, writes:
I came out of the seminary in 1970 thinking that my job was to have an answer for every question. What I’ve learned is that not-knowing and often not even needing to know is—surprise of surprises—a deeper way of knowing and a deeper falling into compassion. . . Maybe that is why Jesus praised faith even more than love; Yes, love is the final goal but ever deeper trust inside of darkness is the path for getting there.
Whatever this “first month of the year,” means for you, I pray God’s blessing and tender mercies. And I encourage us all to tend to the spiritual practices that are particularly helpful whenever we’re called to walk by faith and not by sight. Here are three tried and true practices:
- Taking time each day for silence and intentional prayer. It’s astonishing how nourishing even a few minutes of prayer can be. If you have a prayer practice, be faithful to it. If you need one, try something as simple as sitting in a chair and reading the stories and teachings of Jesus. I’m personally inspired by the example of our Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry, who prays with the daily office of Scripture readings. I strive to do the same.
- Being faithful in Sunday worship. I know that Sundays can be crowded with competing demands, and that church can sometimes feel like work. But the gifts of Christian community and the grace available to us when we show up to pray, be fed at Jesus’ table, and play our part in the body of Christ are priceless.
- Finding ways each day to be of service to others. One of the surest ways to experience blessing is to be a blessing to other people. As St. Teresa of Avila reminds us all, “Christ has no body on earth but ours. Ours are the hands through which he works; ours the feet on which he walks; ours the voices through which he speaks to this world in kindness.”
I’m grateful to live in Christian community with you and look forward to this new year, with all its challenges and opportunities. We needn’t have the answer for every question. I certainly don’t. But I place my trust in Christ who is within, beside, and among us all. And I trust the Holy Spirit, whose power working in and through us can do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine.