Watch the video above. Read the transcript below.
“I wish for each of you a strong and joyful new year. As the new year dawns, let us give thanks for one another and for the light which shines in darkness guiding us forward.
The beautiful story of Christmas is a story of light shining in darkness and the darkness does not overcome it. And yet, as the story unfolds, Mary and Joseph, being warned in a dream, take the infant Jesus and flee to Egypt. They flee because Herod has said any boy child under the age of two must be killed. Threatened, he was, by the birth of this child who would rule over Israel.
Methodists in our earliest days welcomed the new year in a covenant service. They would gather, sing, hear the scriptures, speak together of holy things and covenant again to follow God wherever God would lead.
The Covenant Prayer given to us by John Wesley reminds us whose we are. We are not our own, we are Yours oh God. The Covenant Prayer reminds us of our calling. Put me to what You will oh God. Put me to doing or put me to resting. Raise me up or bring me down. Whatever your will is, we pray. In this prayer, we ask again that God would use us for good and that we would trust God as God directs our path step by step by step.
This sad memory of the flight into Egypt, the threat upon the one who came to us as Savior of the world, is an important part of the story of Christmas. We remember it, it was indeed a dark time. And yet the light of Christ burns bright.
The light shines in darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. This remains true, we rise, we shine because God shines like light in every dark place.
I invite you to renew your sense of covenant in your local congregations and also with one another. Laity and Clergy are invited to commit in this year to be in a group for discipleship as we strengthen the discipling culture of the North Carolina Annual Conference.
We need one another to make the journey ahead, a journey which is both light and dark. A journey which is victorious because the one who came to give light always overcomes the darkness. This is the message which we bear.
And as we go into the new year, I look forward to the ways in which our lives will be enriched as we live in covenant well with one another. May Christ be with you as the new year comes.”