By Bill Smith
Voice of the Vestry
January is a difficult time for many of us. The bright lights, family time, and festivities of Christmas are replaced by the long, cold, and, at times, dark winter days. As a youngster growing up in Traverse City, I actually loved the snow and cold – playing outside on snow piles that seemed like mountains. It was a quiet and simple time.
Until recently, as an adult, January became a time when I became very disciplined and trained for cross country ski races later in the month and for the remainder of the winter. Comparing the current training times with previous years’ times became the norm. I resolved every January to work a little harder, ski a little farther, a little faster. Those days are over now, replaced by gratitude to be in the woods with friends and my family, rather than racing to the finish line!
Perhaps now is an appropriate time to re-evaluate our spiritual “training” and discipline. A new year naturally brings with it a time of introspection for many aspects in our lives – diet, exercise, finances, to name a few. However, do we take the same time and energy to evaluate our relationship with God? I believe that this time of the year provides a perfect opportunity for self-reflection and introspection for all of us at Grace. I also believe that this is a private conversation to have with oneself and perhaps then shared with a spouse, significant other, or family member. Will 2018 become the year we dedicate time daily or weekly for spiritual thought and reading? Perhaps this becomes the year we become involved with one of the outreach programs at Grace – Jubilee House, the Food Pantry, or Friday Lunch. Alternatively, perhaps this is the time to use our talents in the myriad of church committees, which can always benefit from new ideas and energy. As we all re-evaluate our personal finances, perhaps we are in a position to make or increase a pledge to Grace for 2018.
As I was reflecting myself, I came across an article in the New York Times on Christmas Day, entitled, “How Can I Possibly Believe that Faith is Better than Doubt?” by Peter Wehner. Although the article contained many insightful elements, I was most touched by a question posed by Wehner, “What is it about our faith that makes it precious in the eyes of God?” As he stated, “What God is seeking is not our intellectual assent so much as a relationship with us.” There is much in this response for me to ponder for the next twelve months and beyond!
We are blessed to live in a special part of the world and to be members of a special congregation at Grace Episcopal Church. May we recognize and continue to remember this in 2018 and the ensuing years.