A new year stretches before us with so much potential and so many possibilities.  I wonder what we will do with these days?  I wonder if we will trudge through them as if its an ordeal to get through?  I wonder if we will plan, and over plan them so that every minute of every day has a tight schedule which leaves no room for innovation, discovery, and even miracles to occur?  I wonder if we will simply break the year into pieces which serve to move us from one season, one celebration, one remembrance to another?  I wonder if when we come to the end of 2022, we will be able to look back with pride at all we were able to influence for good, build up with pride, console with compassion, and embrace with love?

As one year passes, and another yawns before us, many take stock of what has been done, and what might yet be done.

I, like many, was saddened to hear of Betty White’s death on New Year’s Eve.  She had been so vibrant her entire life, she seemed as if she would go on forever.  Always happy, always positive, always looking for the good.  I was preparing for the celebration of her 100th birthday, I just knew it would be full of positivity and love.  When you thought of Betty White, the picture that would come to mind was one of her smiling and eyes twinkling.  If I needed a picture to illustrate happy, it would be one of Betty White.  She exuded an aura of happiness around her.  She was fiercely loyal to the idea of loving and accepting everyone, and would stand for the defenseless.  You no doubt have read of how in 1954 Betty White included Arthur Duncan, an African-American tap dancer on her show.  She was told to to remove him because of the color of his skin.  Its been told she politely refused, saying, “I’m sorry but, you know, he stays.”  Her show was later canceled, but she would not budge in standing for what she knew to be right.  Of course you’ve heard of her love and affection for animals.  Betty had a mission, learned and honed from childhood, to care for those creatures who were vulnerable and in need of love.
I know you’re probably wondering why I’m going on and on about Betty White.  What has this to do with what we will do with, and in, 2022?

I’m just thinking, Betty was preparing for her 100th birthday celebration, I’m sure there was a lot of planning and coordination having to take place for this event.  Betty however, never stopped living in the moment.  She didn’t let the planning of that event stop her from living a life filled with love and happiness.  Anywhere she went, any person or animal she engaged with, would not have been able to come away from an encounter with Betty not feeling the happiness that was her.  Betty didn’t dwell on, or even know, when her last breath would be.  I would say she lived each moment as if it were her last, thereby making sure to leave behind the best of who she was.
As we begin walking though the days of 2022, what would it be like if we lived each moment as if there were no others ahead?

I was at one of my favorite places the other morning for breakfast, Cafe Brazil.  I like the vibe of the place, the funky decor, the never-ending coffee and the menu offerings.  But one of the things I think I like the most is, the wait staff remembers what I always order and so just checks with me to make sure that’s what I want.  Its almost like being at home with a family member.  When I arrived, I walked in and went straight to the coffee bar and poured myself a cup.  I walked to the unattended front stand and grabbed a silverware packet, and headed to one my usual tables.  There were only a few patrons scattered around the place.  I began to drink my coffee as I waited for the server to come take my order.  I drank, and I read stuff on my phone.  I drank some more and continued to wait.  No one came.  Others had been waited on, food orders had arrived.  Still, no server.  Finally, I went to one of the servers and asked if she could take my order.  She was so embarrassed she had not noticed me waiting.  She profusely apologized for her oversight.  I tried to make it not a big deal, I told her I was sure it was an oversight, I probably was seated in a place where it was hard to see someone sitting there.  Over and over, she apologized.  She brought my order, she apologized.  She checked on me, she apologized.  She brought my check, she apologized. She retrieved my form of payment, she apologized.  I know the cafe is short-handed and continues to advertise, “help wanted.”  What could I leave behind for this young person who is probably over worked and under paid?  What kindness could I pass on?  I try to tip well, but it wasn’t a matter of remuneration.  I felt she needed a positive word.  I finally told her, “You really don’t need to apologize, I NEED to thank you for waiting on me.”  She smiled and had this look that said, “thank you for not bawling me out.”

Before you get it twisted, I don’t always have the presence of mind to be that kind and gracious.  It takes thought and intention.  I have my moments where my baser self takes hold.  Something hit me though; “its 2022, I can make each moment of this year an opportunity to pass on kindness, compassion and love.”  If I’m intentional, if I’m looking for the opportunity to be kind, it will happen every day, in every encounter.  Betty White didn’t build a persona of kindness and happiness with one act, one word.  She employed a lifetime of moments that said to the world, she was an exemplary of who she was created to be.  God’s loving, gracious spirit oozed out of her.  This happened because she treated each moment as a gift, a gift to her, and gift she could give.

I pray 2022 gives each of us the opportunity to be kind and loving.  I pray we will be intentional in our kindness.  I pray that when this year draws to a close, we will look back and be able to say we lived each moment with the intention to spread God’s love to every place, every person, every creature that crossed our path.

As a side note, when the early Christians would gather they didn’t identify as “Christians,” rather they were followers of “The Way.”  “The Way” referred to a way of living out their witness; being kind, being compassionate, being forgiving, being accepting, being loving.  As we live each moment of 2022, let’s you and I be living in “The Way.”

Your fellow traveler on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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