Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: New Year's Invitation 2021


Dear Friends,

One of my favorite passages of Scripture is found in Philippians 3:13b-14. “But this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.”

Though applicable each and every day, these verses from Paul’s writings are especially apropos as an old year ends and a new one begins. This is because celebrating a new year particularly lends itself to letting go of the past and leaning into the present and future.

One of the most meaningful ways I have found to do this is by spending the days between Christmas and the New Year reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future. The reflection time consists of thanking God for the blessings, asking God’s forgiveness for my missteps and identifying learnings I gained through the course of the past year. The goal-setting focuses me on the possibilities of the coming year.

As 2020 draws to a close, I feel an extra pull toward this annual habit. Deep in my spirit I sense the importance of “mining” what God has to teach me from the experiences of this difficult, heart-rending, challenging and humbling year! This also equips me to release 2020 and enter 2021 with hope and gratitude.

Questions bubbling up in me include:

  • If I had the opportunity for a re-do of 2020, what would I do differently? What would I do the same?
  • Is there anyone God is nudging me to thank for brightening my life in 2020?
  • Is there anyone to whom I need to apologize for hurting or disrespecting in 2020?
  • What have I learned about myself this past year?
  • What have I learned about the church?
  • Where have I seen God at work in 2020?
  • What was the worst moment of this past year? What was the best moment?
  • What steps am I feeling led to take in 2021 to strengthen my relationship with God and the church? To serve others? To help dismantle racism in our society?
  • What are my hopes for 2021? For the church? For our nation?

You may have a very different process for letting go of the old and moving into the new. If not, I invite you to join me in reflecting on 2020 and setting goals for 2021 as action steps flowing out of Philippians 3:13b-14. After all, one of the great principles of Christian living is to put the past behind us and press on toward the future.

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference

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