Soul Food for the New Year - January 4, 2022

 

 

 Soul Food: This I Pray and Offer as Resolutions for the Church in the New Year


“My people will live in peaceful dwelling places, in secure homes, in undisturbed places of rest.”  (Isaiah 32:18)
 

  1. A Threshold for True Harmony

As we pass through the threshold of 2022, we prayerfully and completely entrust this year to the Lord.
From our trust and even through our frailty, may God liberate humankind from the chains of pandemic and restore us to even healthier days.
Health arrives as a gift and a deep reception of our mutual dependence: we must all be saved together to achieve our complete and entire salvation.
As we pass through the eye of this needle into God’s newness, we cross humbly, and acknowledge that a world of creation that is dependent on one another requires that we live together by moments of chosen mutuality and into places that can only be pursued on a path of love and harmony.
Honest love and respect for our neighbor exalts them above ourselves. This is the agape of neighborliness proclaimed by the Gospel.
In a world where even one person suffers from their dignity rejected, discrimination chooses evil forces that break the balance of God’s intended harmony and damages the beautiful tapestry of life. From this we must repent.
We believe that the church's mission is to fully give and devote itself to this kind of respect and love. This is God’s self-giving poured into each moment of creative transformation, Christ in us.

  1. Our Inner Work of Confession and Worship

As we reflect on our inner journey and pass into the threshold of 2022, I would ask us how we might restore such love and respect as a priority for Christians. I hope that we will confess our failings before God completely and worship the Lord with the simple practice of loving and respecting the lives God presents us, that we might demonstrate our neighborliness in each day.
I trust that our existence can be filled with such love and respect, that we will come to think together that the holiness that illuminates our surroundings is the simple and good life of our choosing.
Let us begin with a critical look at the hubris of our time when the church cared only for the vanity of a false sovereignty, imperialistic mental frames, and the trappings of dominance.
We must remember that Jesus sides with the weak not out of mere sympathy, but God’s divine reorganization and reclamation of the creation order.
This gospel has power to lift children, to relieve the pain of the poor—this is a gospel that frees the smallest life from oppression and rejects systems of discrimination and patterns of prejudice.
I believe only pure and humble love is the essence of life.
 

  1. Walking in Beloved-ness

God, help us to become a church that unites around this strength of meekness.
God, help us bring together a church that does not allow the evil of racism for even a single moment, finds those who are always lost and in trouble. Grant that we may befriend the lonely, and generously serve those in need of help. Make us courageous in our practice of the love of Christ.
May 2022 be a year in which we again focus our attention on God and unite with one another in diligence and watchfulness, that we might leave alienation on the altar and walk in unity as our worship.

I sincerely hope that this year will be a year of wide and generous love in the common dreams and beloved-ness of being children of God, with acceptance and even neighborly respect for differences.
I pray that the Lord's blessings overflow to you.

Prayerfully,
 
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung
 

Author

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Hee-Soo Jung

Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).