Monday, December 29, 2014

Choose One Word

The year of 2014 dwindles to a close. Only two more days and we will bring in the New Year with music, dancing and staying up way too late! And then the day after, I will celebrate my birthday, which means it’s DOUBLY a new year for me. But before these events happen, I want to share something with you – it’s my word for 2015 – and then I encourage you to find your own word. Or, as my sister-in-law says, let the word choose you. It could be a word summing up your hopes for the New Year or your attitude for the New Year, or any word that paves the path for the year ahead.

Last year, a friend suggested my word be ROOTED, which was her wish for me. This was very appropriate because of how unsettled I felt at that juncture of my life. From an external point of view, however, it didn’t appear that the word “rooted” worked any magic in my life in 2014 – in fact, just the opposite. I made two extensive road trips over the summer, including a drastic move across the country. “Uprooted” would seem more accurate for what happened, yet internally, something did change in me. I have become more rooted in self-knowledge, rooted in knowing who I am and what I want and what I will give for it, and more rooted in God, who I know is with me wherever I go.

And so I have found myself in Washington, feeling called like Abram to go out to a place that God would show me. The transition hasn’t been easy. Let’s just say there have been a few tumbles down the mountainside, but the Lord has caught me each time. And this Advent, I found myself on a spiritual journey to the hill country with Mary to visit her cousin Elizabeth, who was with child. 

Certainly Mary was also in a state of uncertainty and questions as she pondered what would become of her life. Would Joseph divorce her for conceiving this child from God? What would it mean to be the mother of the Messiah? But even so, her heart beat a little faster and flooded with love when she thought about the babe growing inside her. When Elizabeth saw Mary’s faith, she exclaimed, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Luke 1:45).  

My word for 2015 is PROMISE. I have to believe, even in the face of uncertainties, that God will keep his promises and make good come out of all things. Time and time again throughout salvation history, we see God making promises to His people that are fulfilled despite our sinful human ways and blunderings. He never gives up on us, but rather “remembers his covenant forever” (Psalm 105:8).

“She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us.” (Matt. 1:21-23). 

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)

“I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (Matt. 28:20b) 

The Scripture readings at Mass this Sunday recalled God's covenant with Abram, sending him into the promised land and promising him descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram responded in faith, "for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy."

“By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. ... By faith he received power to generate, even though he was past the normal age – and Sarah herself was sterile – for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy. So it was that there came forth from one man, himself as good as dead, descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the sands on the seashore” (Heb. 11:8, 11-12). 

It is true that Abraham's faith was put to the test. Later he was asked to sacrifice his only son, yet "He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead..." (Heb. 11:19).

As I head into the New Year, I seek like Abram and Mary to put my trust in God's promises. Why shed such big tears over such small problems that come our way? We who believe in the promises don't have to sweat the small stuff or doubt the scope of God’s great big plan. There is no reason to give up hope with so great a promise of salvation waiting for us.

Yes, my word is PROMISE. It is a strong word because it is both a noun and a verb. It is something kept but it is also something given. And the question is, when the Lord asks for my faithfulness, my worship and my service to others in return, will I be able to give it all, and keep my word to Him?


  1. Christina, your word is very fitting. And interestingly, I have been struck by the word "promise" of late, too. It's come up many different times in certain faith discussions and readings and I have never pondered it like I have recently. So I look forward to continuing to ruminate on this word with you, even as I receive my own word for 2015. Thanks for your thoughtful reflections and sharing your word with all of us!

  2. Roxane, I have never given much thought to the word before either, which is interesting and why it seems almost like a new word I just met. Anytime you're willing to share, I'd be privileged to hear your ruminations on the word!