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Embracing gratitude

Jimmie Hawkins reflects on 2022 and speaks a word of hope for 2023.

The year 2022 has come to an end and we ponder the age-old question: “Where did the time go?” It seems as if this year is still early in its infancy and we have so much left undone. But here we are.

So much has happened this year that has given us both moments of pause, discomfort and even pain. Our spirits are downcast by wars that continue to wage and climate change that has wreaked devastation upon the lives of so many. We continue to pray for peace in Ukraine, Syria, Yemen, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo. We sorrow over the horror of gun violence as it continues to plague our nation while we endure politicians who don’t have the will to act. We stand with the church struggling to regain momentum as it comes out of the isolation of COVID-19 with sanctuaries containing half the number of worshippers who previously attended Sunday morning services.

But as we consider the past year, we also are reminded of God’s call to maintain a sense of gratitude for the loving presence of God in the midst of everything. Presbyterian Outlook is grateful for the support of readers who remind them that their work is valued and appreciated. Your donations, encouragement and blessings have made what they do so much more meaningful.

We are grateful for seminaries that have called servant-leaders who are blessed with the gifts and talents necessary to prepare leaders for a life of ministry. We pray for those who offer their service and who receive the blessings of being connected with those who were previously strangers. We are grateful for Presbyterians who serve in a variety of fields from college campuses to overseas missions to homeless shelters. We are grateful for people of every age who live out the good news that brings life and sustainability for each one of us. The good news that we are in this journey together and are one community united by faith. We are truly grateful for children, who remind us that we are called to a life of innocence, faith, trust and reliance upon our God as they love us for who we are.

This moment in time is not just for remembering for the sake of nostalgia, but to acknowledge that God has been present with us each day of 2022. In our gratitude we are joyful because there are always life lessons to be learned, new discoveries to be explored and new relationships to be made. We are never too old or too wise that God won’t renew and refresh us through the wondrous creativity all around. The promise is to give us eyes with which to see and ears with which to hear to vibrancy of life.

And as always, as people of faith we are called during the Christmas season not only to reflect backward, but to ever look ahead. It is our prayer that 2023 might be one wherein the presence of God is made evident in your life in new and refreshing ways. May your family find peace as you experience whatever life might bring your way, and may your love for one another provide comfort and wholeness. May your relationship with God continue to sustain you, offer you guidance in difficult moments and nourish and help you to continue to grow in faith. May you continue to find meaning from following your passion to serve and fill the world with the love of a God who cares for the impoverished and offers healing for the wounded. May you always know that the love of God is unconditional, and that “There is nothing that can separate you from the love of Christ Jesus,” our Lord and Savior.

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