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Kenneth Reed column: Old routine meets new year

By Kenneth Reed
For The Salisbury Post
I’m looking forward to the new year. Even with the wintry weather the month of January has a fresh feeling to it. It’s entirely possible that I crave a return to routine because normal schedules and life patterns are replaced by the busy holiday season.
However, as 2009 begins I will return to a routine that began for me nine years ago.
In January of 2000, I started the tradition of a “new year” reading of the New Testament book of Acts. Throughout that month I purposely and prayerful journeyed through the holy account of the apostles and how they were guided by the Holy Spirit to grow the Christian church.
My reading of this scripture is now a routine I look forward to each January.
In December we hear the birth story of Jesus Christ read in worship, sung in carols and hymns, performed in plays and musicals. God’s sending of his only son cannot be considered routine. It is spectacular!
Yet, in January, life returns to normal schedules and patterns.
That’s why the book of Acts is special to me this time of year. Following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus (more spectacular events) the early Christians returned to a life of routine. But they were called to be different. Caring for the sick, feeding the hungry, providing for the poor became more than a daily routine all in the name of Christ. Their work had now become Christ’s work in the world.
And it still is. In the congregation I serve, our weekly prayers often give thanks for the people and organizations who engage in the act of providing for the sick, the hungry and the seeking. From local non-profits to international agencies, Jesus Christ is at work through us in the world.
Sadly, when December comes to a close, the faces and stories of those in need (whether temporary or long term) seem to dim from our radar screen. We are back in our routine.
This year as our schedules and patterns return to normal, like the people in Acts, we are also called to be different. We are called to be Christ in the world.
Food and encouragement.
An electric bill payment and warm conversation.
Help with prescription costs and the offering of time.
Who do we know? What can we do? What do we have to offer? With whom can we partner in our daily routines to extend the hand of Christ?
Great questions indeed! And the answers are seen in our actions.
I look forward to my annual routine of reading through the Book of Acts this month. Without fail, each year something new finds me. Each year a certain story grabs my attention. Each year out of gratitude to God I am moved to respond in some new way. This year will be no different.
I love routine.
The Rev. Kenneth Reed, Jr. is pastor at Concordia Lutheran Church (ELCA) in China Grove.

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