Hopes for the Year

Anne Bruce

I start a new year like a runner lacing up her squeaky new shoes for a test-run around the block. Don’t put too much pressure on the idea of an immediate transformation; I know I won’t be marathon ready yet. But perhaps this fresh start – this sense of unknown, uncharted territory – can be a major player in the ongoing journey of becoming fully me.

Six years ago, a week before Christmas, I stood on what seemed like the starting line: the steps of University Christian Church in Fort Worth, TX with my fellow graduates of Brite Divinity School – anxious to take off, curious and excited about having a degree to go with our God-inspired vocation. A few months later I humbly stepped into the robe of ordination and continued the race of life and ministry, learning something new every day. I have since been shaped and changed in more ways than I can possibly say.

So who am I on this cold January day in 2016? I am a mother, a minister, and a minister’s wife. My husband and I work together and parent together so that nearly all aspects of our life together is centered around the questions of what it means to be people of faith in this very broken world, as people who are trying to lead a congregation into kingdom-living so that our children and our children’s children can have an opportunity for a better, kinder, more loving world. I began training for these kinds of questions in seminary. The answers are that much more vital to me now that I am a mother. And in all of this living and working, I have found the power of the written word to be my source of sanity, creativity, and understanding.

So as a minister, a minister’s wife, a mother, and a writer, what are my hopes for 2016? I hope to live this year one day at a time with an eye always on tomorrow. Does that sound like an oxymoron? Yea, I thought so, too.

Our culture is one that never stops. We hear many messages about success, happiness, and life. Information is readily at our fingertips, just waiting to be accessed. With the dawn of social media, even the definition of friendship has changed. The pace of this race is only speeding up, and I’m becoming exhausted at too young an age.

What does it mean to live one day at a time? In a culture that never stops, it means that I will wake up every day and see what face the sky is making. I will notice the birds at our feeder and listen to their conversation. When my daughter wakes up, I will ask her what she sees out the window and what she dreamed about during the night. My husband/co-minister and I will create a home and a church atmosphere – two places where the topic of conversation differs for the sake of both (talk about challenging!). I will pay attention to the way we are growing and changing and learning. I will write down stories and struggles and sloppily jot down poems of reflection. With an eye always on tomorrow, I will take note of how the situations of today are shaping the people we will be in the days to come.

As a minister, I hope to bring this same way of living into my “day job.” I want to live one day at a time when it comes to relationships with the people of my church. I want to take the time necessary for praying, listening, and being present. Yet with one eye always on tomorrow, I hope to allow the work I do on a daily basis to shape and mold the reality that is to be. I want to hold the wavering trust that the project I work on today or the prayer I offer before someone’s surgery today will be a spirited part of the church’s vision for tomorrow. Jesus told his disciples to watch the birds of the air and the lilies of the field and notice the freedom in which they live. With my attention upon the goodness and mystery of creation, I hope to shape within my soul a way of being that will carry my church, my family, and myself forward.

Living one day at a time with an eye on tomorrow is a New Year’s resolution that will never fully be successful – much like my aspiration to be a marathon runner. Even as I write these words I know the challenges that await. But don’t we all long for the day when the world will know the full peace of God? You know – that peace we just celebrated during Christmas? Surely, to get there, we must each do our small part. Day…by day…by day. Tomorrow truly is within reach. Happy New Year, friends.

Anne Bruce’s blog is called “Chocolate Sundaes” and can be found at www.annerossbruce.blogspot.com.

These last few weeks we’ve heard from various guest writers as they reflect on their own sense of pastoral/vocational identity. We asked these writers to share their thoughts believing that an essential piece of overall health and well-being for clergy is a sense of self that extends “beyond the pulpit”, but that also embraces the realities of their calling to ministry. We’re grateful for the thoughts of these fine pastors and welcome your engagement with them in conversation.

This week’s contribution comes from the Rev. Anne Bruce, co-pastor, First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Glasgow, Ky.