So…here we are again…the end of a year….
I usually throw some inspirational or motivational sermon out about this time…but not this year…this year I want to take time to reflect on all that this year had to offer…
This year we saw many leave, some new faces arrive, and watched as the world collectively held it’s breath and sighed it out in both relief and disgust. We saw citizens call for justice and had them denied, we saw heroes arise from ashes and stride the world doing good. We saw terror rise higher, hopes crash down, and a glimmering spark of light shine through it all….
For me here in Scotland I saw a nation rise with one voice, only to have it fracture and fall.
I could dwell on all of the negative things I have watched in people’s feeds…but I want you all to take a moment to look back at YOUR year. The hopes fulfilled, the dreams that got lost along the way, and the memories (both good and bad) in your hearts that raised you up or sunk you down….and I want you to realize one VERY important thing about today…
AS OF TOMORROW THERE IS NO ‘LAST YEAR’.
When the clock turns to midnight, and the iconic ball drops, I want you all to take a deep DEEP breath, and realize that EVERYTHING negative that happened to you is now GONE…it cannot touch you any more.
This is going to be 2015..think about that for a moment.
For myself, this year marks my 48th birthday, 10 years married to my wife, 9 1/2 of which have been spent in Scotland.
I will have been your cleric for NINE YEARS this year.
This year will bear much sorrow, much joy, much confusion, and much triumph. Think on that.
Whatever you did this last year, be it for good or bad, will be consigned to history and not to be thought on.
LET IT GO.
Some people seem to forget that when the NEW year arrives you begin with what is known as a “TABULA RASA” a BLANK SLATE…you can begin again ANEW. Now, if you are smart you will not dwell on what sins you may or may not have committed…what dreams dashed against the tide of time…and those who upset or hurt you.
A STRONG person will simply shrug, exhale a breath, and say “Well…that’s done”…
See, dwelling on the past does nothing for a person. It only serves to drag up all those old feelings best left sealed in Tupperware and buried in the garden.
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” – Matthew 6:27
Sure..I had problems, people who made me just boil in my chaps, and some who touched my heart so deeply I sat in tears here…but you see, if you look back at only the NEGATIVE you will fail to see the POSITIVE.
I found out ON MY BIRTHDAY I had diabetes (which kinda sucked given that the wife had bought me this AMAZING fudgy cake!) but did I let it run me down? Nope…I did what the doctors said to do, take my medicine regularly, and adjusted my diet to keep myself healthy…
Life is not what you are handed, it is HOW you deal with what you are handed that defines you.
So, if you look on the POSITIVE side, you can see that tomorrow means something NEW…365 days of FUTURE to look forward to.
Shuffle off the black shawl and try some color this time.
As my job dictates I see A LOT of departures…family, friends, companions, and even the odd ‘other’.. and yet every day I am there trying to build up people, encourage them, and raise their hopes in that they can make it just one more day without folding to pressure.
YOU CAN TO!
So…with that in mind: I would like to RENEW MY VOW to you all…
I DO SO SWEAR BEFORE MY MASTER AND HIS FATHER THAT I (Br. Thomas Francis, AKA Friar Jeff) WILL ENCOURAGE THOSE WHO COME TO ME DOWNTRODDEN. (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
THAT I WILL OFFER AID TO THOSE IN CRISIS. (Acts 20:35)
THAT I WILL COMFORT THOSE IN GRIEF. (2 Corinthians 1:4)
THAT I WILL NOT LEAVE THEIR SIDE UNTIL THEY ARE ABLE TO DO SO FOR THEMSELVES. (Proverbs 27:10)
THAT I WILL BE PATIENT, KIND, CONSIDERATE, TOLERANT, AND NON-JUDGEMENTAL TO THOSE WHO’S LIVES MAY NOT BE ACCORDING TO WHAT STANDARDS THE WORLD HAS SET. (Mark 12:30)
THAT I WILL MAKE SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE IN THE WORLD SMILE AT LEAST ONCE EACH DAY. (Romans 1:11)
THAT I WILL (hopefully) ENCOURAGE SOMEONE TO FIND THEIR FAITH AGAIN …WHATEVER THAT FAITH MAY BE. (Romans 15:2)
THAT I WILL BE THERE FOR THOSE WHO THINK NO ONE CARES, UNDERSTANDS, OR CAN HELP THEM. (Job 33:23)
I WILL ENLIGHTEN THOSE IN THE DARK, AND DARKEN THOSE WHO SEEK TO DEVOUR THE LIGHT. (Micah 7:8, Ephesians 3:9)
Or to put it another way (so my Parish will understand it better) : I WILL SERVE.
This is my vow before Holy God and my Master…so help my soul.
-Br Thomas Francis
(Rev. J.L. Wallace, OSM-TOSF)