While celebration is in order at New Year's, the turning of the year is also an opportunity for reflection, gratitude, and transformation. With Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, we can breathe in the New Year, opening to the totality of our feelings and experiences. As we breathe in, we can accept the fullness of our experience, including a divine peace that passes all understanding. We can listen for a quiet voice of possibility amid the welter of experience; a still small voice, whispering in sighs too deep for words, calling us to adventure and transformation. We can take time, as we should each day, to give thanks. As Dag Hammarksjold counseled:

            For all that has been—thanks.

            For all that shall be—yes!

Gratitude opens the door to appreciation, inspiration, and openness to the future. The great "yes" we proclaim is not assent to injustice, global climate change, racism, sexism, homophobia, and consumerism. It is a "yes" to God's life moving through all things, calling us forward to changed lives and changed communities. With the Hebraic tradition, New Year's is the call to choose life moment by moment amidst our responsibilities to our communities and the planet. Death holds too much power in our lives; but love casts out the fear and embraces abundant life for us and for all creation. Gratitude and appreciation open us to life-transforming love.

The events of life are now planetary and we must become planetary persons. We must vow to grow in wisdom and stature, to become persons of size, with large souls rather than cramped partisan spirits. In the turning year, we remember the great certainties that undergird all change, captured in the words of a hymn that sustained me during our son's cancer treatments.

            Great is Thy faithfulness,

            Great is Thy faithfulness,

            Morning by morning new mercies I see,

            All I have needed Thy hand has provided,

            Great is Thy faithfulness,

            God unto me.

New Year's reminds us that there is a graceful movement amid all change. All will be well if we follow its moving image into the new day and the new year. God is with you in the New Year!

Return each Wednesday for more Spiritual Practices for Preaching, from the Patheos Preachers Portal.