What You Should Keep in the New Year

As we say goodbye to 2020, many of us are eager to leave the year behind in its own dumpster fire. But there are a few things I’d like to keep.

Like many others who were fortunate enough to be able to work from home for at least part of the year, I gained a newfound appreciation for quality time with my loved ones. I rediscovered my apartment’s balcony as well as the joy of a home-cooked meal. These and other simple pleasures are some I hope to keep with me in 2021.

Simplicity & Scripture

I also rediscovered the value of daily Scripture reading and prayer. At the start of the pandemic, when my usual schedule went out the window, I found structure and comfort in completing daily Scripture readings from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals. The scripture selections are short enough so as to not be daunting, but in-depth enough, taken with the prayer, song, and devotional selections, so as to deepen my faith and relationship with God. The readings follow the liturgical church year, but with a twist: each month focuses on a different area of God’s redemptive work in history and in our world today through the restorative work of “ordinary radicals,” who have fought for justice, love, and equality in the name of Christ.

So I found myself, in the crazy year of 2020, reading scripture with an eye toward the cultural and social aspect of redemption. And there could not have been a better year for it. Because if there’s one thing I must take with me from 2020, it is my newly-opened eyes.

2020 Vision

I have long been an advocate for the belief that the Gospel as not only personal but social; not only spiritual, but physical; as Christ’s “blessings flow far as the curse is found.” But it took a global crisis to help me see just how deep that curse runs, throughout the various structures of our society. This year has exposed as never before the deep inequities inherent in our healthcare system, in our justice system, in politics, in the workplace, in education, and even in our churches. And because we were forced to do things differently this year, some of these systems are already in the process of being changed, as, for example, many workplaces realize that they can make accommodations for those with disabilities or for those balancing their work and family.

So, yes, let’s say a hearty farewell to 2020 and look with hope for the future. Let us pray for the efficacy of the vaccine and for our economy to bounce back. Let us look forward to the day when we may once again gather in houses of worship and places of education and concerts and festivals and plays and parties.

But let us not return back to normal.

As we move from the Christmas season into the season of epiphany, may the light of Christ illuminate our eyes so that we may continue to see the broken places in our world, and may His spirit guide us to work together with Christ in His mission to “proclaim good news to the poor” and to

…bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise  instead of a spirit of despair.” (Isaiah 61:1-3).

Let us go into 2021 with 2020 vision.