Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Eve Promises

It has long been a tradition in our family to get together on New Year's Eve for games, snacks, singing and - the highlight of the evening - choosing a promise for the year ahead.

How it works is this: Dad lovingly undertakes the labourious task of selecting promises from the Bible; then he types them into his old word processor and prints them off on regular sheets of paper. After that, he cuts lengths of satin ribbon in a variety of colours and tapes the ribbon over the paper. Then he runs the whole thing through the word processor again, and the verses are perfectly aligned on the ribbon. He then untapes each ribbon from the paper and cuts the ends of the ribbons to avoid fraying.

Finally, he places them, upside down and with the colours arranged for symmetry and beauty, on a special antique china tray, ribbons anchored in the centre by an old brass bell polished for the occasion. He brings the tray to wherever we are gathering for the evening, and where he knows that there will already be a place of honour set up for the tray to be displayed.

Some years it is just our immediate family who meets; at other times we have friends over; when we were in India, it was the entire student body and Dad would type upwards of 700 verses out so that each person would get their promise for the year!

Each of the verses is chosen with great care and with a prayer that the person who selects the verse will be blessed, directed, sustained in some way. As Dad always makes clear, this is not a fortune-cookie exercise, nor is it the usual way he would recommend finding out the will of God for a person's life. However, it does seem that the verses people choose are so very often relevant to their particular situation, their individual cares and concerns.

This year we gathered at the TH and this year the verse I drew, on a pink satin ribbon, was from the gospel of John, chapter 14 and verse 27:

       Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you.

Out of the 20 words, seven of them are pronouns -- I  and you pronouns. This is a very personal message. And four of the words are verbs -- but how great is this?!  in not one of the verbs am I required to do anything! One of the verbs tells me the calibre of peace that the activites the world and my own efforts will provide me; the other three verbs tell me what Jesus will do for me. Notice also that the verbs are in the present tense, active voice. He gives me peace and he leaves it with me.

The message is succinct and direct. There is not a single superfluous syllable.

At the end of a year where I have worked probably 355 of the 365 days, where I have experienced being pulled in various directions - personally and professionally - and have been spread too thin at times; where I have been so busy and often felt quite ambiguous as to what it is I should be doing at any given time, this verse offers
                  the tranquility
                  the quietude
                  the repose
                  the calm
                               I cannot purchase or barter for, or even hire someone to accomplish for me.

The only thing I have to do is accept.

1 comment:

  1. The way you share and expound on the verse shows that you have sat at Dad's side these many weeks and months, for the insight is true as a crystal bell and in the style of our father; also now, of you, while the message is for us all. Thank you!


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