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"Finding Our Gifts from 2021" by Rev. Dr. Christine Emmerling 1/9/2022 (Text)

“Finding Our Gifts from 2021" by Rev. Christine 1/9/2022

Today we’re going to take time to reflect and find our gifts from 2021. Towards the end of today’s talk we’ll have a guided exercise to look back at 2021. You may want to have something to write with at hand.

The month of January was named for the two-headed Roman god, Janus, who looked at both the past and the future. Janus was depicted with two faces, each facing in opposite directions. Janus presided over the beginning and ending of conflict, and hence war and peace.

The romans placed this double faced god at their doorways and entrances. One of their names for doors was Janua. A door can be symbolic of leaving one place and going into another. It can also represent a change in consciousness. The god Janus reminds us that the present is the culmination of the past, and the foretelling of the future.

We can also use this time to release the old and create the new. As we bring together the knowledge and wisdom we gained from our past, and our vision of future possibilities we fashion in the present moment. The results can be the fullest, richest, most creative life we are capable of living now and at every moment in time.

As part of this process, a couple of Sunday’s ago was about releasing that which no longer serves us. Today we will be reviewing the past year looking at the gifts that it brought to us. It is through both the good times and challenging times that we build character, wisdom, and spiritual understanding.

Although, it is mostly through the challenging times that we develop in character; we become stronger and more compassionate. We also have the opportunity to put to practice all that we have learned through spiritual studies, and practices.

Of course its our choice, our free will, in how we choose to respond to the challenges we face. We can choose to be fearful, and let it hold us back. We can choose to be angry and use it to be hurtful to others and ourselves. Or we can choose to see it differently, take a new perspective and use it for good.

The following is a Bible story in Genesis chapters 37-50. It tells of a young man who through his challenges made a better life for himself and others. I’ve called this story making lemons into lemonade. His name was Joseph. Joseph was the son of Jacob. Jacob who through his challenges, had a change in consciousness which the angel gave him the new name of Israel.

Jacob had 12 sons, and Joseph was his 11th son. He was his favorite child, and Jacob showed this by making him a very special coat. The elder sons were jealous of their father’s love for Joseph.

Joseph had a special gift of receiving visions in his dreams, and he could interpret these visions. A recurring vision had him in a position of power with his brothers bowing down to him. Joseph shared these visions with his family. This angered his elder brothers who were already jealous of him. This one day, Joseph’s father sent him to check in on the brothers who had taken the flock to graze at a nearby town. As he approached, the brothers plotted to get rid of him, and decided to sell him. The brothers then let the father believe his precious son, Joseph, was killed by an animal.

Joseph found himself a slave to a rich Egyptian of the Pharaoh’s court. Joseph living as a slave could have been a horrible life. But, because of his cooperative attitude his owner gave him a good life. Then one day the owner’s wife wanted Joseph as her lover. When he refused she had him imprisoned. While in prison the word spread of Joseph’s ability to receive visions and interpret dreams. The Pharaoh hearing about him, sought Joseph out to help him interpret a dream he had.

The dream represented 7 good years of plenty followed by 7 years of drought and hunger. He told the Pharaoh how to plan for the 7 years of plenty to save the people of the land during the 7 years of drought. The Pharaoh was so pleased that he made Joseph ruler over the land.

The time came when people had no food, and Joseph distributed the food that was stored away during the 7 years of plenty. Joseph’s family living in Canaan were also affected by this drought. Jacob sent his 10 elder sons to Egypt to buy food. When they arrived, they bowed down to Joseph not knowing he was their younger brother. Joseph recognized his brothers, and gave them food while keeping his identity a secret.

Joseph eventually let his brothers know who he was, and requested they bring his father to him. Now they had to tell their father that his son didn’t die, and what they had done. At first they were so afraid that Joseph would punish them, but he explained they were only a part in God’s plan to save lives later on. Joseph moved all his family to Egypt where they lived a good life.

Having been a slave Joseph could have wallowed in his misery. Instead he chose to find the good and learn from his experiences. He shared his gifts, and made the best of his situation. In which Joseph was a blessing to all of Egypt and the surrounding lands. Truly fulfilling his life purpose.

Being able to move forward and begin anew, requires understanding, to find the good, and have gratitude for our experiences. For these experiences have brought us to where we are today. We can ask “How can I see this differently?” “What good can I make of this situation?” Then we are ready to move forward. If not learned, we are bound to repeat the past until we learn from it, and take a different approach.

We will now reflect upon 2021. To find the good and build upon it. On the global scene, January of last year we were still experiencing the effects of the pandemic with hope of a new vaccine. It was a race to produce, distribute, and get it to the people. Vaccinations started for those most vulnerable and working in the medical field. For the world scene the pandemic and climate change took center stage.

For our country the political division of 2020 continued on into 2021. We had the issue of legal votes and voting rights. People’s rights were in the forefront - a continuing theme for this decade. Even being vaccinated and wearing a mask were a political issue having much mistrust and fear in loss of freedom. As more people were vaccinated and new infections declined restaurants and churches started reopening for indoor services, and pleasure travel opened up. Sadly many businesses and churches did not reopen. After much delay Schools reopened. Much industry chose to let many of their employees continue to work from home.

Life was at a new normal with always a mask at hand while new variants of the COVID-19 started spreading. Booster shots became available giving people more freedom to gather together, and we saw families come together for the holidays.

Now looking at our ministry. We started 2021 as an online ministry. Having our services by teleconference, our Podcasts posted on our website and linked to Facebook. As spring approached it was time to move the Church office, and have the Sr. Minister relocated. Much effort went into this. The ministers had training on Facebook. By summer we added Instagram, and started posting weekly inspirational writings and daily affirmations. By fall we were also posting our services on YouTube; this took learning how to convert and edit our Podcasts for Youtube.

Having an online ministry gave us more time for the spiritual aspects of the ministry instead of being so focused on fund raisers to cover expenses. We now have hundreds of people listening to each of our services, and thousands responding to our affirmations and inspirational writings. This has become a worldwide ministry. We are ever so grateful to be reaching so many people. I personally am looking forward to expanding our online presence with more offerings.

2021 was a universal 5 year, and it lived up to its main attribute of change and desire for freedom. We brought in what we had learned from 2020, to continue the progress made. Everyone looking for new ways of living for enjoying life. While others felt their freedom of choice taken away by mandates. The one needs independence, while the two is cooperation and peacemaking, and if not realized it becomes about conflict and war making.

This new year 2022, is a six year with 3 twos. Its theme is relationships and responsibilities; with home and family as its central theme. The 3 twos are even more so about having cooperation and peacemaking. Every year brings its opportunities for growth. When we’re in the flow its easier than when we resist the changes.

We’re now going to have a guided exercise to review how we personally experienced 2021. Get comfortable, you may want to stretch a little. Let us now begin with some good deep breathing. Breathing in the very life and breath of God. Still our thoughts, and open our heart and mind to the Christ within.

Relax, as we go back to the beginning of last month, December 2021. How did you feel about the year that was coming to an end?....

Now let us step back in time to January, February, March of 2021. What was going on in your life at that time; expectations, challenges, decisions, career, personal relationships?... How did you handle these?...

What spiritual insights are there?... Ask Spirit to reveal the deeper inner message...

And now we move into April, May, June - look at what these months brought...

Now move to July, August, September... What did summer bring?

Now we move to October, November, and back to December. What was going on at that time?...

Stand back as if looking down on your life for the whole year from beginning to end, as if viewing a chapter in your book of life...

Let us now give thanks to Infinite Spirit for insights received. As ready open your eyes. Now begin to answer the following questions.

1. What were your major accomplishments, or problems solved?

2. What have you learned most from 2021?

3. What are you most grateful for in 2021?

4. As a chapter in your book of life, what title would you give to 2021?

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