“New Beginnings” or “Joy for the Star-Flinging God”

O Star-flinging God,
whose light dances across eternity,
     dazzle us into your presence
     this new year.
Open our hearts to the mystery of your love.

Awaken us to your presence,
     knit to the ordinary.

Reveal to us what is possible, but not yet present.

Heal us, that we might be healers.

Reconcile us to you and to ourselves,
     that our living might be reconciling.

Stop us often, we pray
     with news that is good
     with hope that holds
     with truth that transforms with a Word
          tailored to this trail we’re on.

May the word of your grace guide our steps
     like the sun by day
     and the north star by night,
     as we travel into the gift of a new year. Amen.

                                                     By Glenn Mitchell

These words reverberated through the room as we proclaimed them, praised with them, pleaded them, and claimed each phrase as our prayer.  Faculty, students, new and returning, gathered together on a sunlight morning, welcoming in the new year. I felt my fingers tingling and my spirit alive as I stood, my feet planted firmly and my heart soaring.  I felt a sense of coming home as I looked around the room to see faces that are now familiar to me, and the warmth of a community that in these short months has become one of mine.

Nestled in that sense of safety and belonging sprang up newness, an excitement, deep and giddy anticipation of God’s star-flinging plans for the coming year. I felt aware of the ways I’ve been changed and transformed since I last stood in this space and the hints and whisperings of experiences and transformations yet to come. I stood in awe, looking back at the way our Transformative Creator has led and provided, bringing me into eager and apprehensive contemplation of what’s to come. The movement that occurs though each small step, each choice to listen to the Still Small Voice, through waking up another day and saying “Use me today God. Lead me Lord, I will follow.” Awaken us to your presence, knit to the ordinary.

I felt strength as I heard a story shared. A story about a small sapling being planted, planted without stakes because “it’s the blowing in the wind that makes the trunk strong”.  And how here, a year later, that sapling is a small tree, having weathered ice and wind and rain, stronger and still reaching for the sky.  I felt the words, Heal us that we might be healers piercing me. The wounds that are fresh, and those that are stronger, more supple and wiser as they have been healed. Gratitude rose in me as I thanked God for the healing and the person God is molding me into through the dance of brokenness and wholeness.

And joy! Deep, rising, ringing joy! The wonder of your grace that guides our steps, the light that dances across eternity leapt in me as I sensed the dazzling of the Divine Presence working in the room, moving in me, flowing over the campus, reaching back and leaping forward preparing a way.  The truth that transforms with a Word, tailored to this trail we’re on.

The Word in the moment: joy.
Deep, grateful, dancing, sparkling joy.
Joy for the lightness and the darkness.
Joy for the grace and the pain.
Joy for the healing of the broken.
Joy for the leading and the living.
Joy for loving and being loved.
Joy for serving in wholeness and authenticity.
Joy for beauty and worship and bright flowers.
Joy for community and friends and humanity as a whole.
Joy for the star-flinging God,
who dances across eternity,
dazzle us into your presence in this new year….

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