I recently saw a movie, a musical in fact, called la la Land.
Set in LA it was a story of a man, who was a musician, and a woman, who was an actress, who meet and eventually fall in love. The struggle to make it, as a success, in their respective fields and eventually they do, but at the expense of their relationship.
As I reflected on that film considering what I was going to say this morning, I thought, “What was more important to them – love or success?” It was the focal point of the story, in my opinion.
We have moments when a single word, spoken or read, causes us to focus clearly on our lives – the commitments we make; the decisions which must be made; the values we live by.
I suggest this morning, on the front door step of 2017, that life as well as faith, needs a fresh focal point from time to time from which we strike out on the path the Lord has for us with a new perspective and renewed hope.
That fresh focal point often comes from finding One Word to focus on for the year ahead.
What might that word be for you this coming year?
My text for this morning gives focus to what the Lord wants to say through these words as we consider what One Word we need to focus on for 2017. It is Psalm 119:105
Your word is a lamp for my feet,
a light on my path.
The Lord’s word to us gives us direction and provides us guidance. The Bible being God’s words to us, offers us direction and guidance. It is the primary way we discern the path the Lord would have us take; the primary way we ‘see’ where we are to go and be the person of God we are to be.
And the message of this wonderful book, these wonderful words, are often succinctly stated in one word. For example, listen to these verses of scripture as I emphasize one word in each of them.
Choose you this day whom you will serve, but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.
Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’
A single word is often the pivot, as these verses note, on which important choices and decisions turn in relation to our relationship with the Lord and the world.
The naming of resolutions for the year ahead is very popular this time of year but I suggest we consider that significant change often comes one word at a time.
God’s word to us – through scripture, through others, through circumstances, and through the Holy Spirit, is often made clear through One Word.
I want us to consider three questions, from the pen of Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen, to help each of us consider what one word might be a focal point for us in the year ahead.
What is something that you would like to change about yourself?
What kind of a person do you want to become?
What distracts you from focusing on change or the spiritual formation you desire?
Earlier, we read the words of the late Catherine Marshall, who wrote the book Christy and whose first husband was the late Peter Marshall, the chaplain of the US Senate in the late 1940’s.
She asked the Lord for a dream, which is one word that motivates many people, and one sentence struck me as I prepared this meditation this morning:
So Father in heaven, knowing that I can ask in confidence for what is Your expressed will to give to me, I ask You to deposit in my mind and heart the particular dream, the special vision You have in my life.
This particular dream, this special vision, God’s dream and vision for us, is often discerned through one word.
What might your One Word be for this coming year?
Where do you need to grow your life and faith?
Where do you want to grow in your life and faith?
I believe that the Lord has a word, one word, for each of us for this year. It is a door through which the Lord speaks to us and calls us to walk through so that we are open to His direction, leading, and empowerment.
What might be that word for you in this new year?
As we prepare for communion, let me suggest that One Word to focus on in the next moments, is love…
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Remember Jesus and His sacrifice on the cross, out of love, for the forgiveness of our sins.
Let us spend time in quiet reflection and meditation for the next few moments and confess what we need to confess and allow the Lord to embrace us.
Thanks be to God! Amen