Year-End Giving- Some Reflections about Faith and Finances

The following is an excerpt of a post that appears on the COMPASS blog

giftstocharityIn the United States many persons view December 31 as not only the end of the calendar year, but also their fiscal year due to income tax laws and other financial considerations.  It’s a common and accepted practice for people to give one more year end gift to organizations and causes they value. Some organizations and non-profits depend heavily upon these gifts to budget and plan for the year ahead. Some giving gifts look for tax benefits by giving to a cause or organization they want to financially support.

As a person of faith, my year-end gifts are part of my offering and thanks to God and a way of stewarding some of my resources to help others and to make a positive contribution and difference in the world. I usually think about three possibilities for my gifts, in no particular order: alma maters; faith communities; and with the question “Who does your heart break for?”

Please click here to read the rest of the post

 

Image Credit: Gifts for Charity

December 24th- Christmas Eve #Birth

During the season of Advent, I have been doing something new on the blog. I have tried to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Birth. This series of daily posts will conclude on Christmas Day.

The second chapter of the Gospel of Luke begins:

nativity“In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.”

As we have journeyed through Advent, we pondered great questions, shared and reflected on deep wonderings. There will be plenty more time for this in worship later today, tonight and tomorrow. But instead of pondering today, I simply want to share this candlelight prayer meant for Christmas Eve night in the hope that the true light may shine in your life, and may illuminate more of those questions you have as well as what God might be leading you and calling you to do and respond to.

Let us pray. Almighty God, you made this holy night shine with the brightness of the true light.  Grant that here on earth we may walk in the light of Jesus’ presence and in the last day wake to the brightness of his glory; through Your only Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.

p.s.- If you find yourselves in Minnesota and without a faith community to gather with this Christmas Season, I warmly invite you here to join us. Christmas Eve services will be at 4pm and 10pm this evening, and Christmas Day worship will be at 10am. Each service is unique in it’s own special way.

Image Credit: Nativity

Tuesday December 23rd – The Twenty Fourth Day of Advent #Presence

During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Presence.

20141224_083457
One of our family’s nativity scenes.

At the heart of Christmas for me is an act of God entering into the world and showing just how much God loves God’s creation. Christmas is about God being part of the world, breaking into it, and confirming (yet again) that God wants to be in relationship with it, and if that means God has to take on human form to make that possible, so be it.

Christmas is also something new. God breaking into the world in this way, is a new creation of sorts. But it also is a continuing of God’s promises and on-going promises.

When I think about these promises, what really comes to mind is presence. When we sing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” we are literally asking “O Come God (be) with us.” God is with us. God is present with us. Christmas then is an opportunity to remember that there is no bound to which God will not go to be present with us. That, in itself is the Gospel. Add in the fact that with Christmas also comes the birth of the Messiah, who comes “for us and for our salvation,” and that connection of Christmas and Easter is much clearer. None of these deep and important theological moves would matter though, if God was not or did not care about being present.

Today I’m not wondering about God’s presence. I’m wondering about how we can be most present this time of year- with each other, our friends, our family, our loved ones, those in our faith communities? How do you create intentional space to be with each other, especially during the Christmas holiday?

In thinking about presence, and especially God’s presence with us, I hear the words of the carol, “Your Little Ones, Dear Lord” in my ear:

“Your little ones, dear Lord, are we, and come your lowly bed to see; enlighten every soul and mind, that we the way to you may find.

With songs we hasten you to greet, and kiss the ground before your feet. Oh, blessed hour, oh, sweetest night that gave you birth, our soul’s delight.

Oh, draw us wholly to you, Lord, and to us all your grace accord; true faith and love to us impart, that we may hold you in our heart.

Until at last we too proclaim, with all your saints, your glorious name; in paradise our songs renew, and praise you as the angels do.”

As we are very close to the manger now on our journey through Advent, we pray:

“Oh, draw us wholly to you, Lord, and to us all your grace accord; true faith and love to us impart that we may hold you in our heart.” Amen.

This Week’s Links

Internet1Tuesday on the blog means that I get to share some of what I have read and found interesting over the past week with all of you. Given today is the day before Christmas Eve, many of the posts are Christmas related. To help navigate all of these great pieces of food for thought, I have broken the links into different topic areas. This week’s topic categories are: Church & Ministry Thought & Practice; Cross-Sector Collaboration; Leadership Thought & Practice; Millennials; Neighbor Love; Social Media & Blogging; Stewardship; Vocation and Miscellaneous. I hope you enjoy these links.

Church & Ministry Thought & Practice

Bishop Michael Rinehart shares some thoughts and ideas related to the lectionary appointed readings for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Take a peek at these if you are looking for last minute ideas for worship this week, or if you are looking for some more Christmas themed devotionals and reflection pieces.

Bishop Rinehart also shared some thoughts about the readings appointed for the First Sunday of Christmas too.

The Pope’s traditional Christmas greetings to leaders in the church this week was anything but. Josephine McKenna shares the story in, “Pope: Vatican bureaucracy has ‘spiritual Alzheimer’s.'”

Pastor and blogger Jan Edmiston asked an important congregational and missional question we should all ponder, “Who Is the Face of Your Church?

Jen Bradbury reflected on and explained about “How to set the church of the future up for success.” Jen writes and concludes, “As a youth pastor, I’m convinced that teens aren’t just the future of the church. They’re the church of today. That said, make no mistake. We set the church of the future up for success when we empower our teens to lead our congregations today… And continue doing so as young adults.” I’m definitely with Jen in this. Are you?

Friend and pastor Brian Mundt shared “The Congregation as Community,” by David Brubaker.

Looking ahead at the months and year to come, LEAD shared and invited, “Leading the way in the New Year? Let’s figure it out together.”

Cross-Sector Collaboration

lwrlogoRecently Consumer Reports released their grades for non-profits and NGOs. Rev. Dr. David Lose shares the news that recent reports hailed the work of Lutheran World Relief. If you are looking for an organization to contribute to as part of year end giving, LWR definitely gets my recommendation.

Tom Murphy shares news of a new innovative international group doing good work in explaining “How a Groupon-like app is helping build a road in Ghana.”

Julian Stodd shared some reflections about networks and communities in “Synchronicity: Engaged Communities.”

Brigid Schulte writes that “Women are flocking to statistics, the newly hot, high-tech field of data science.” As an economics major seeing this story made me smile.

Last month Moosa Hemani shared about “How to Judge the Value of Keywords for your Business.”

Leadership Thought & Practice

Brian Dodd shared “An Early Christmas Present For Leaders: 15 Quotes About Great Leadership.”

Tanveer Naseer explained about “How to Increase Self-Awareness In Our Leadership.” This reminded me of a reflection I shared awhile back on self-awareness. How do you (or how do you work to) increase self-awareness in your life and leadership?

Dan Rockwell reflected about how “Authentic leadership includes pointing out your own BS.”

Steve Keating offers a good reminder about finishing the year strong, so you can start the next year, 2015, off on the right foot in “Don’t See the End Too Soon.”

Michael McKinney shared “5 Leadership Lessons” in “Richard Branson on Leadership.”

John Brandon shared, “28 Inspiring Quotes on Leadership in Business.” Included among the list of quotes is one of my favorites from Peter F. Drucker: “Leadership is not magnetic personality that can just as well be a glib tongue. It is not ‘making friends and influencing people’–that is flattery. Leadership is lifting a person’s vision to high sights, the raising of a person’s performance to a higher standard, the building of a personality beyond its normal limitations.”

One of the things a good leader does, is able to hold a lot in tension and they do this in part by being able to maintain a schedule and/or calendar. Related to this, Gretchen Rubin wrote back in August about “How the Strategy of Scheduling Helped Me Make a Habit.”

Marcey Rader asked, “Do you have an A-Team?” That’s a great question both for leadership and life in general.

Millennials

Regarding young leaders (and likely Millennials), Brian Dodd shared what he sees and believes are “20 Things Pastors, Coaches, and Business Leaders Must Know About Leading Young Leaders.” There are good things in this, including recognition that: young leaders need clarity; do not underestimate the potential of young leaders; and give young leaders responsibility and let them lead.

Jon Mertz from Thin Difference shared, “Your Life Quest: Peace. Courage. Authenticity.” Included in this post are a couple beautiful pictures of Mount Rainier. Check it out.

Molly Page at Thin Difference shared about Madeline Caldwell, asking, “Madeline Caldwell: Millennial Entrepreneur in Disguise?

Alex Swoyer shared the news from a study released by Development Dimensions International, Inc., that “Women and millennials in leadership roles are better for business.”

Chelsea Krost shared a post from Kathryn Kennedy about “How to Use Social Media to Draw Millennials to Your Brand.” Related to this, there are three things to keep in mind: be active on social; don’t just post content, post the right content; and giving a little will get you lot.

Neighbor Love

With Christmas, Advent, protests, neighbor love and Vespers in mind, Martha Spong wrote, “On the wrong side of Vespers.” This is a powerful and important read, and I hope you check it out.

I stumbled across this post from a couple years ago which still seems very poignant by Carolyn Sharp, “Luke 1:39-56: Magnificat for a Broken World.”

Krista Tippett shared her latest “On Being” episode with Father James Martin entitled, “Finding God in All Things.”

One artist's depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25
One artist’s depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25

Friend and professor Dr. Mary Hess shared this perspective and video that’s well worth a couple minutes of viewing and thought, “Dreaming of white privilege…

While journeying through the season of Advent, Rev. Dr. Karoline Lewis shared some great thoughts in “Advent as a Way of Life.”

With the Fourth Sunday of Advent in mind this past week, Brennan Breed wrote and shared, “The Self-Righteous System and the Prophetic Task (2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16).”

Also with the Fourth Sunday of Advent in mind, friend and pastor Frank Johnson shared his sermon, “Joseph and the Importance of Just Showing Up,” based on the narrative lectionary’s appointed text, Matthew 1:1-25.

Friend and pastor Aaron Fuller shared his sermon based on the same text, “Life is not disposable.”

With Christmas in mind, friend and pastor Jamie Brieske shared a little about her son and Christmas in “Look Mom, Baby Jesus!” Jamie also shared her sermon for this past weekend, “Holding the Holy.”

In thinking about the incarnation theologian Will Willimon shares “Thinking Faithfully About Christ.” He also shared some more great theological reflection in “For Us and Our Salvation.”

Candice Czubernat shared a guest post by Beth Carlson-Malena entitled, “A Lesbian & the Virgin Mary.”

In the spirit of Christmas, here's a picture of a Nativity Scene that I saw outside the Vatican in 2008
In the spirit of Christmas, here’s a picture of a Nativity Scene that I saw outside the Vatican in 2008

With Advent and Christmas in perspective, friend and pastor Diane Roth reflected in “Worship on the Streets.” Within this Diane wrote powerfully, “I am still not sure what I experienced last night.  Was it a worship service or a performance?  Or was it a demonstration?  We were out in public, walking the streets, shouting ‘We come seeking shelter!’ just as surely as others, earlier in the day, had shouted, ‘No peace!  No Justice!’  For a little while we walked the streets, cold, homeless, seeking welcome, seeking shelter. ‘Bienvenido!’ was the sign.  It was a sign from God, the lowly God, the one who walks the streets, the homeless one who provides shelter, the disturber-of-the-peace who is our only peace. Meanwhile, come Lord Jesus.  Give us courage to join the procession out on the streets, to be rejected and turned away, to be disciples of the lowly God, our only hope, our only peace, in the darkness.”

Diane also shared, “Don’t Make the Gift Too Ethereal.” Within this she shares some personal reflections especially related to Advent. She writes, “I am thinking about laying off the deeper meanings of Advent for awhile, and just holding on to the ordinary things, the things I can touch:  a simple meal, a few words, a small gift to use as I see fit.  Instead of straining toward a far horizon, I will touch, and look at what is right in front of me.  And I will say that somehow, God is right here, at the table, in the simple mess, not ethereal at all. Take and eat. Taste and see. The true meaning of Advent.”

Friend and intern pastor Chris Michaelis continued sharing wonderful Advent Devotionals. I especially appreciated the one he shared yesterday, “O Dayspring.”

Christmas and the holidays aren’t always easy or happy times for everyone. At least in part to this recognition, John Pavlovitz wrote “Oh, There’s No Place Like Homesick for the Holidays.”

Also, recognizing that this season can be more blue than gold, friend, ministry innovator and pastor-in-waiting Emmy Kegler shared, “Queer Blue Christmas.” Check out this site and resources.

One of the rather surprising stories from the past week was the announcement about the intention to change polices of the United States with Cuba. Tom Murphy shared this story for the Humanosphere in “U.S. and Cuba to restore full diplomatic relations.” In response to this news, Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, the executive of Global Mission for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), wrote and released a “Statement on Cuba” from the ELCA. Also, friend and professor Dr. Ron Byrnes shared some good perspective related to this “On Cuba and North Korea.”

The news about torture and United States policies that were used to interrogate and try to gain information regarding terrorism continues to be digested. Today, the New York Times‘ Editorial Board wrote, “Prosecute Torturers and Their Bosses.” I’m sharing this because I think it’s an important ethical, neighbor love, and justice perspective. What do you think?

Social Media & Blogging

Friend and blogger J.W. Wartick shared his version of the links with a special and timely Christmas flare in his “Really Recommended Posts 12/19/14- Christmas Apologetics Edition.” In a somewhat related post, J.W. also shared, “Handel’s ‘Messiah’ as Apologetic.”

Jeff Bullas shared “The Ultimate Guide on How to Get More Blog Traffic: 100+ Tips and Tactics.”

Friend Carrie Gubsch shared this post by Jay Baer with me, and now I share it with you, “Why It Might Be Time to Completely Change Your Social Media Strategy.”

I came across this helpful post from June by Andrew Jennings that shared, “Five Questions To Ask About Social Media ROI.” The questions to ask include: What are our organization’s objectives for the next 4-6 months? How well are we currently serving our customers? Are we confident about how we measure the results of our current sales and marketing efforts? What is our organization’s readiness to adopt social media and the associated responsibilities and performance measurement processes? Are we prepared to be wrong?

Stewardship

Friend and Classy Frugalist Grace Duddy Pomroy shared a couple Christmas themed posts in “A Christmas Carol: What are you investing in this Christmas? (Part 1) and “A Christmas Carol: What are you investing in this Christmas? (Part 2).

With Christmas on his mind, Arthur Brooks writes and reflects, “Abundance Without Attachment.” Give this a read and some thought.

Friend Trip Sullivan shared “Read This Before You Buy Another Holiday Gift (or Goat)” by Christine Bader with me. There are good thoughts about giving, and it’s timely given Christmas and year-end charitable gifts and donations. I especially appreciate the author’s concluding question: “How do you use your year-end giving to start conversations about how you live for the rest of the year?”

Brian Dodd shared “4 Questions Christian Leaders Must Answer About Money.” The questions include: Has money become too big a deal for you? Where is your money going? Is your heart divided? Is God enough?

Erin shared a helpful stewardship related post in “How to Budget Your Time Like You Budget Your Money.”

Not that I necessarily endorse being a cheapskate, but I found this list of “8 Ways to be an Extreme Cheapskate” from Michelle interesting. Would you (or do you already do) any of these things?

Vocation

Friend and blogger Julia Nelson shared a number of vocationally rich posts as always. She shared some “Tuesday Tea Time,” “Friday Favorites,” and “Sunday Snippits.”

Friend and pastor Diane Roth shared some personal reflections about the past month, in “How I Spent My Advent.”

Friends Katie and Will continued to share reflections about their journey and first few months together in South Africa in “Part 2: Reflections on the First Three Months.”

Miscellaneous

Merry Christmas from Allison and I!
Merry Christmas from Allison and I!

As a Norwegian American this story from Deena Prichep, “For Norwegian-Americans, Christmas Cheer is Wrapped Up in Lefse” put a smile on my face. Check it out to learn about one of my family’s Christmas customs and traditions.

Friend, Mariners fanatic and high school math teacher, Tim Chalberg wrote that with “Ruggiano Acquired, the Seth Smith Watch Begins.”

To close, here’s one more Christmas themed post. Bishop Michael Rinehart shared “A Latino Night Before Christmas.”

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That will conclude this week’s edition of the links. Given Christmas and New Year’s, I may not be posting any links next week, we’ll see. Until the next time, thank you so much for reading and being part of the conversation. If you have any ideas for blog post topics for me to write about, or types of things to include in the links, please let me know. Merry Christmas to all of you! -TS

Image Credits: The Links; Lutheran World Relief Logo; and Joseph’s Dream.

December 22nd- The Twenty Third Day of Advent #Fearless

During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Fearless.

befearlessToday’s word for reflection is “Fearless.” I’ve been a bit stumped all day about how to reflect about this, because I’m anything but fearless. With all of the uncertainty, trials and challenges that we all face in our daily lives, to say anyone is fearless might be a stretch.

My unofficial aunt has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. It’s pretty hard to be fearless with that diagnosis. I am hopeful and trusting in the promises that God is present, and healing will come. But it’s obviously rather scary and uncertain.

As Allison and I find ourselves in ongoing discernment of what’s next, we lose a little sleep here as well. That’s not necessarily fear causing, but dwelling in and on the question, of “What is God up to in our lives,” and other such questions certainly leaves us far from certain as to what life will look like six months from now. I’m not afraid of this, so much as just hoping for a little longer sense of clarity.

Like thousands and millions of people, my wife and I are looking forward to being able to travel back and spend time with loved ones after Christmas. However, like many of those thousands and millions we are not exactly fearless of this either. It’s always a little scary and nerve wracking to go back into family systems, traditions, expectations, etc. It’s not that we are not grateful, but we do worry about letting family and loved ones down.

One artist's depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25
One artist’s depiction of Joseph and his dream as told in Matthew 1:18-25

We worry about the awkward questions that many people our age get from families like: “When are you moving back?” “When are you going to have a baby? I’m not getting any younger.” We’re used to these questions, but that does not mean that we don’t lose a little sleep about them either.

In thinking about being fearless, I am thinking again today about the passage in Matthew 1:18-25, where an angel appeared to Joseph in a dream. I wonder, if an angel appeared to me in a dream like they did to Joseph would I have that kind of faith to do as I was told by the angel? Would I have that sense of fearlessness? I would love to say I would, but deep down I really have my doubts. Do you?

The redeeming thing about Christmas and our fears though, is that we don’t have to dwell in them alone. We can hand them over to God, and that’s perhaps the biggest point of all. At Christmas, God chooses vulnerability and to break into the world in the lowly and fragile form of a human baby, just like you and I. If God is wiling to do that for us, and literally be Emmanuel, “God with us,” we can release the rest of these fears. God’s with us and we’re not alone. And with all these things in mind- health, discernment, family, other questions you may have, that’s the most important thing. God is with you and God loves you, even when things might seem bleak and you have more questions than answers. Know, you aren’t alone. You are loved.

What fears are you wrestling with and worrying about right now?

If you have some fears, join me in this short prayer:

Gracious God, you know what worries us, what we’re afraid of, who we are and what we are facing. Please be present with us, reassure us, ground us and open our eyes, hearts and minds to your love and peace. Let it wash over us this Christmas season, and let us be renewed in you. In your holy name we pray,  Amen.

Image Credits: Fearless and Joseph and his Dream.

 

Sunday December 21st – The Fourth Sunday of Advent #Angel

During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Angel.

angelAngels are a rather important part of the Christmas story. They appear at least six key times within the birth narratives in the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Their roles generally involve sharing good news and good tidings, though they also appear to warn the family to flee from Herod after Jesus’ birth as well. Their very presence signifies that God is up to something big here.

In taking stock of the different angel appearances, in Luke 1:11-20 an angel appears to Zechariah foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. A little later in the first chapter of Luke, an angel appears to Mary in 1:26-38 foretelling of the birth of Jesus. In Matthew 1:18-25 we hear how an angel appeared in a dream to Joseph, and that kept Joseph engaged to Mary and he did not abandon her because she was with child.

In announcing the birth of Jesus as detailed in Luke 2:8-20, the angels appeared to the shepherds in the field calling them to take notice and go and see. After Jesus’ birth, the angels are the ones in Matthew 2:13-15 who warn the family to flee to Egypt, and then about when it is safe to return to Israel in 2:19-23.

As Advent begins to close, and we journey to the manger this week, it’s good to reflect on the angels and the role they play in helping show what God is up to. Reflect on these passages above, and take some time with the text of another of my favorite carols, “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”

“Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled.’ Joyful, all you nations, rise; join the triumph of the skies; with angelic hosts proclaim, ‘Christ is born in Bethlehem!’ Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’

Christ, by highest heaven adored, Christ, the everlasting Lord, late in time behold him come, offspring of a virgin’s womb. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see! Hail, incarnate deity! Pleased as man with us to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel! Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’

Hail the heaven born Prince of peace! Hail the Sun of righteousness! Light and life to all he brings, risen with healing in his wings. Mild he lays his glory by, born that we no more may die, born to raise each child of earth, born to give us second birth. Hark! The herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn king!’”

What comes to your mind about the angels?

Source: “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley; Felix Mendelssohn, arr. William H. Cummings.

Image Credit: Angel Statue

Saturday December 20th- The Twenty-First Day of Advent #Soul

During the season of Advent, I am going to do something new on the blog. I am going to try my best to offer a daily reflection here as we journey through this season together. To help frame the devotions I have been using hashtags designed by a group with the Episcopalian church. For example, the hashtag assigned for today is #Soul.

Nelson Mandela on Forgiveness
Nelson Mandela on Forgiveness

There has been something wearing on my soul this year. I think I finally figured that out yesterday. It finally hit me what’s been wrong with me. I have been spiritually sick in a sense because I have been unable to forgive. I have been holding on to pain, chips, regrets, fears and worries that I wasn’t even really fully conscious of until yesterday morning.

I figured out why Allison has been asking me so much this Advent season why I haven’t seemed as excited as I usually am this time of year. For the first few weeks I just sloughed it off. Then she brought it up again the other night. I knew she had a point. In year’s past, I couldn’t wait to decorate and get our apartment all festive to celebrate and feel a bit warmer as the nights draw longer and colder. This year though, I was kind of slow in the decorating process and sadly in some ways it was more of a “have to” than a “want to.”

The realization hit me yesterday though; my heart has been heavy in part because I have been unable to forgive. I have held on to some things that I should never have- I have worried about our monthly budget, about being able to treat Allison to a Christmas gift or two, I have felt like we were let down this year by some opportunities and friends, that others in our family were mistreated too. Unaware of this, I let these worries and feelings build up inside of me. Their building up has gotten to a point where it was blocking my ability to experience the fullest sense of hope, joy and peace that comes this time of year.

Well, no more. I know it is not going to be easy to do this, but I need to forgive.

These words from Matthew 11:28-30 ring in my ears, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

I need to forgive myself for feeling like I haven’t yet become who I am fully called to be, and for the feeling of not being enough or earning enough. No more am I going to let the fears of scarcity weigh on my soul.

I need to forgive those possibilities that never panned out. They were great conversations and sounded wonderful, but they weren’t meant to be in this time and place. I trust (and know) that other doors have and will continue to open in their place bringing wonderful adventures and possibilities.

I need to forgive those people and systems whom I feel have mistreated friends and family (and myself) this year. There’s no use in wondering the “what if’s,” and regretting choices, but rather, to say, thank you for the opportunity to grow and then move on in hope and trust.

I don’t write this to sound ungrateful. I am very grateful of all the different roles and opportunities that we are in now, and have been in. But for some reason, lately I have lost sight of my own ability to be present by giving room to some regrets, “what if’s” and even self-created grudges.

For all that I may have disappointed this past year, hurt, or not done when I ought to have, please forgive me and help me to forgive as well.

God, please help me. Please forgive me for these feelings and self-created hurts. Bring me out of these feelings, and grant me back the smile which I know fits best upon my face. When thoughts like these arise again, help me to remember to forgive this day and every day. You created me to love, and often love first starts with the ability to forgive ourselves. Help me forgive myself, and help me to forgive others. In your name I pray, Amen. 

Today, I am choosing to forgive myself and others. I hope for whatever challenges you have faced or face today, that you can as well. I pray that your soul may feel light and full of joy this Christmas season.

Have you ever found it hard to feel the fullest sense of joy in your life because of a hurt or regret you have carried? What do you seek forgiveness for this week before Christmas? What is weighing on your soul today?

Image Credit: Nelson Mandela on Forgiveness