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A New Year Message from Rev. Dr. Christy Newton

As we turn our focus toward a new year, it might be easy to despair. Millions of people are

suffering from war or the need to flee their homes. Powerful corporations are profiting and

profiteering from our climate crisis. Too many people are struggling to piece together the basic

human needs of food, shelter, and meaningful work. And we are witnessing an ongoing attack on

our democracy. At a time when we need one another more than ever, many people are feeling

isolated and alone. Communities are divided, and some are eager to exploit those divisions. How

shall we — as people deeply informed by our Christian values and faith — respond? How might

we take these concerns seriously, feel their urgency, and yet remain hopeful, joyful, and

compassionate?


Christianity is rich with sacred stories of courageous individuals who witnessed devastating

events in their world, envisioned different possibilities, and inspired others to act upon those

visions. They didn’t hesitate to name injustice and to engage in resistance to that injustice. To

sustain their vision and their resistance, they drew upon support and accountability from their

spiritual communities. They grounded themselves in scripture. They attended to personal and

community spiritual practices. And they asked lots of questions. We must follow their example.

As we enter 2024, we are invited to gather up our courage and curiosity to meet the deeply

ethical, theological, and spiritual learnings that will challenge us and inspire us this year. What

questions are you asking? What are you wondering about? Where do you see hopeful

possibilities emerging? Where do fear and faith meet for you? Where have you seen or

experienced someone’s generous heart lately? What does courage look like? Do you lean toward

“why me?” or “why not me?”


Asking these types of questions is an essential part of envisioning and creating a different kind of

world where all people have access to the resources needed to thrive. And whether they seem

like it or not, these questions are profoundly theological, pointing us toward what it means to be

human and what it means to be a part of God’s divine creation. Despite what some people might

want us to believe, we are not alone on this journey of life and faith. We belong to one another;

we belong to the refugee at the border, to the forest, to the heron at the streambed, to the mother

seeking help at the food pantry, to the polar bear, to the open prairie, to the veteran out of work.

We do not have all the answers to all the difficult questions; but that is not the goal of faith. We

do have the power and capacity to struggle together, to ask hard questions, and to welcome

moments of joy and hope that find their way into our lives. These moments come to us in big and

small ways. I find joy and hope in being a part of a community of faithful seekers like you who

are part of Disciples Seminary Foundation and in serving a God who also seeks — alongside us.

Together, we seek the deepest sources of life and justice and peace and grace and compassion,

wherever they may be found, and we hope to extend these gifts to others, as well as ourselves. I

pray these efforts guide us in and through the year ahead.


Blessings,

Christy

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