The New Year and brief thoughts on Joshua 24:1-15

Open Bible-public domain

During my first devotion-time in this New Year, I read Joshua 24:1-15. The pericope is a familiar one to many. Joshua gathered the tribes of Israel for a solemn, covenant renewal ceremony. He highlighted God’s saving activity among the Israelites, beginning with Abraham and his descendants, through to the giving of the Promised Land. According to Joshua, it is in the act of remembering God’s saving activity in the past that Israel is graced with the opportunity to respond to God by putting away other gods and renewing the covenant with God by serving him.

The pericope is a significant one for this first day of the new year. This day affords us the opportunity to remember God’s saving activity in our lives over the course of this past year. In remembering what God has done for us, we are free to respond with a renewed commitment to serve God in 2019.

A renewed commitment to serve God each day in the ordinary activities of our lives might involve something as simple as the following example: Instead of complaining to God about the inclement, cold, snowy weather; give God thanks that you are blessed with health to shovel the snow off the sidewalk—thus giving you the opportunity to exercise after a large dinner on New Year’s eve.

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Our New Year X-County Ski

Today we went out skiing to Police Point Park. It was a perfect winter’s day, not too hot, not too cold, no wind, about minus 7 or 8. God was smiling down on us, so we got our 30-year-old cross-country skis, boots, poles, and  gloves and headed out to do some skiing.

Me all enthusiastic at the beginning of the ski

Me all enthusiastic at the beginning of the ski

My wife, Julianna on the enjoying the trail

My wife, Julianna enjoying the trail

Me gliding along on the trail

Me gliding along on the trail

We met up with these folks snowshoeing

We met up with these folks snowshoeing

Of course others were x-country skiing too

Of course others were x-country skiing too

The sun going down behind the trees

The sun going down behind the trees

River banks in the distance

River banks in the distance

Happy New Year everyone, and a BIG thank you to all who visited my blog and especially those of you who took the time and made the effort to leave a comment on my blog in 2013. I am going to take some time to evaluate whether or not to continue with this blog, as it has been online now for several years. So if you find my posting rather infrequent or not at all, that is the reason.

New Year thoughts in different directions

New Year thoughts in different directions

The arrival of another new year brings with it many open doors of opportunity. The old adage, when you’re so far down, there’s only one way to go, up, may well describe the present state of the world.

 

On the international scene, Christmas and New Year’s headlines focussed on the conflict in the Middle East, the breaking of the six month truce between Israel and Hamas, and the bombings of Hamas military targets by Israeli planes. The psalmist’s age old lament-question, “How long, O LORD,” is as applicable as ever. The issues, of course, are as old as the days of Abraham, Sarah, Hagar, Isaac and Ishmael. Questions, criticisms, and advice are legion—however, solutions are still as enigmatic as ever. Fundamentalist and evangelical preachers with all of their eschatological scenarios are a dime a dozen. A Bruce Cockburn line comes to mind: “Everyone wants justice done on somebody else.” Or maybe a little more hope in a Leonard Cohen line: “Ring the bells that still can ring forget your perfect offering there’s a crack in everything that’s how the light gets in.” Maybe we all need to pray for more cracks and ring more bells. What is the international community—including the so-called moderate Muslim nations—doing about the escalating anti-Semitic rhetoric and the Holocaust denial conference of Iran’s Prime Minister? Remember, the Nazi movement also started with rhetoric and escalated into anti-Semitic political policies, which in turn, resulted in the Holocaust. Why is the international community criticising Israel to no end, yet failing to act to declare suicide bombings a crime against humanity? Israel has a right to exist in peace with her neighbours. Do her neighbours accept or reject this right? My hope and prayer for 2009 is that the peace movement among Israelis and Palestinians shall flourish, and the press focus more on what they are doing to make a difference in everyday life for both peoples.

 

On the national scene, we had a bit of a political crisis, with the threat of a coalition between the NDPs and Liberals, and the BQ promising their support. Most Canadians may not have voted Prime Minister Harper into parliament—since the voter turnout was rather pathetic!—yet, I think the majority of Canadians would consider such a coalition with a separatist party holding the balance of power rather dangerous. I empathize with the Governor General; she had a difficult decision to make; however I think she made the best one, considering the alternatives. Our M.P.s in Ottawa from all parties need to stop playing destructive political partisan games and consider the overall well-being of the nation—that’s what Canadians gave them a mandate to do, to govern responsibly in a minority situation by working together regardless of their political ideologies. The growing—statistics may not support this—violence, or at the least media coverage, is a concern for every Canadian. What are the circumstances and other factors that draw people into gangs and drugs? Do we need to be more proactive? How can we as a society meet the needs of people in order that they would not turn to gangs, violence and drugs? We all need to struggle with questions like this and work together for a more peaceful society. Rather than signs of despair, these are doors of opportunities, for where there is life there is hope and vice versa. Happy New Year and God bless us one and all!