Sermon

Astra Dannenfelte

UMC of Latvia – pastor of Cesis

Upon hearing word “January”, first thoughts coming to mind – winter, light coming from snow, a feeling of recent celebrations, and also – a beginning of something new. For me in particular, January is the start of a new year in my life, therefore I look forward to this month with a pleasant excitement. However, along also comes an understanding that another year of life has passed, some significant experience and challenges have been left behind. Each beginning is always an end or surrendering of something. In our faith life, we often experience moments of renunciation that are either self-conscious action with a specific intention or coercion of life conditions. However, I would like to emphasize also that life in faith on opposite is built on fulfillment. On God’s presence and encounter with Him, on God’s guidance and protection, on the fulfillment of some hope, and perhaps even a miracle. This all fulfills us as unique personalities, fills our life and offers it guidance.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want…” /Psalm 23:1/

How I would love to stay longer in such a feeling of safety and security, to be able to crawl under warm blanket as a little child not being afraid of any outside noise and boogies, to fall asleep while knowing that upon opening my eyes everything would be alright, peaceful, and warm! Unfortunately, the daily life is different, and our faith, values, and relationships are sharply being challenged by difficulties, misunderstandings, injustice, betrayal, failures, sickness. Often there is a desire to get away, to hide, to disconnect from everything and everyone, even from God, at all costs. There is a feeling that you, as a work horse, have to pull all this carriage and how, unfortunately, another wheel is stuck in the mud. Nothing moves forward, everyday life is like a punishment imposed on a person!
Life is not an imposed punishment, just as a person’s desire to enjoy is not just a desire to get into oblivion. God created us people to enjoy, to be fulfilled and happy, it is a natural desire in us. Man is created in the image of God, and already in the first verses of the Bible we read that God created the world and enjoyed it all – acknowledged that it was good, so He rejoiced and loved it. We each have a natural desire for all this, each longing for a lost paradise or state of complete harmony, for special moments of “above” or “peak” experience.

In us the desire to enjoy is divinely imposed, it is not reprehensible or sinful, it is only important in what way we experience pleasure and excitement. Rejoice, feel satisfied and enjoy the fruits of your labor, share the joy, favor and community of yourself and others, including food, drinks, and a beautifully laid holiday table – none of which is a wrong pleasure or desire. Life and living need to be valued and enjoyed, everyday “higher” experiences, moments “above” daily routines are essential to continue to give meaning to everything that happens to you. Dare! Climb the mountain and reach the peaks, not just one, but many peaks! Be confident, act, trust God, yourself, the people around you and trust success, accept and enjoy satisfaction and life, not only complain, or give up, but also learn to enjoy!

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