There is a value in waiting, a value in preparing, and a value in acting.
All-In is the series, but really, during the Christmas season, our focus was on the miraculous birth of John. Remember that we’ve called it silence and song and we spent five weeks. I actually spent five weeks teaching on the miraculous birth as John. We were talking about how God worked with Zachariah and Elizabeth. How their story of the birth of John, who would later be called John the Baptist, and his miraculous birth was intertwined with the birth of Christ. If you read the account in Luke, you see that they all mesh together. Again, we ended it last week. Some of you were here and you remember I had that yellow pad out. We were trying to envision that moment where John’s been named and they said, his name is John. At that moment, Zachariah breaks out in song. We talked about that, the birth of John, and what an amazing blessing it was.
Now we come to a new year and I’m extraordinarily excited about it. Those of you who’ve been listening to rise and shine know it has been the devotional that we’ve been doing in the mornings. I’ve been sending it out to anybody who has the Cornerstone app. You can go on the website and get it. If you have the cornerstone app, you get a notification at 6:00 AM in the morning. All you have to do is just download the app, the cornerstone SF app and we will send it. We originally just said, “Hey, we’re just going to do it like an advent calendar and do it through the month of December.” We had such a positive response and felt that at minimum, we wanted to help everybody get started on the year in a good place, in a good way. We thought, if this can help contribute to positive momentum, we’ll just continue doing it through the month of January. I want to really encourage some of you. It’s only a minute 15, a minute 30 seconds and all it does is it ties a lot into where we’ve been sharing. It might just give a theme, a verse, a prayer, just a quick way of being able to stay connected, to stay in the rhythm of what we’re sharing and it can be a real goal for the entire month. How you start a year actually has a lot to do with what that year becomes.
A start always affects the end of something for sure. How we start matters. I want to encourage you, even if you come out of the gates a little rocky, it’s not too late to start well. This is a good starting place. You feel like God’s speaking to your heart about how to pursue something. We’re going to come out of this time together and feel a conviction around how I’m supposed to maybe respond to this. It’s not too late to still gain the momentum and the blessing of the new year. When a tree grows, the direction it grows at the beginning is what ultimately shapes where it goes. How we are paying attention to the start of this year is a big deal. It’s going to determine a lot of the growth that’s going to work in our lives. We want to do whatever we can to help that process along. Again, just making sure that you have as much equipment as you need and encouragement to prevail through the labyrinth. Sometimes like the way that we have to find our way through in life.
All-in is the theme. If you were getting rise and shine, you would have already known that that’s what we’ve been talking about. All-in. That’s going to be our theme. Jesus himself who’s our master, our teacher, our guide. He said this in Luke 9:23, “if anyone will come after me, let him follow me. Let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” This is the whole message of Jesus. The idea of it being a daily thing. The idea of being all in for the Lord. You can see that when Jesus talked about it, He used metaphors that were compelling. He was talking about being willing to die for certain things so that other things might live. How if you’re going to follow Jesus in a way that’s going to work, it’s going to have to be done with the utmost commitment.
One of the things in the handout there, I’m not going to actually read it all the way through, but you can see there’s this huge quotation from one of the great books that has been written by, I would say the previous century, the 20th century, Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book. The Cost of the Discipleship would have to rank as one of the most influential books ever written for Christians, for followers of Jesus. The book is called The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer was the German pastor who ends up being killed by Hitler, in Nazi, Germany, but his words have echoed on. The way he described the idea of being all in as he contrasted, and you’ll see, maybe later on in the day you will want to read it or just ponder it throughout the week as we sit with what it means to be all in for God. He talked about the difference between what he called cheap grace and costly grace. He talked about how the message of Jesus calls out something that even though it’s free in a sense you can never buy it, it’s so valuable that it costs us everything. It was never designed to just bedabbled with passively. It actually doesn’t work right. It can’t work. We will be disappointed. I can say it straight up. We will be disappointed following Jesus if we don’t throw our heart into it and commit to being all in. It doesn’t mean we’re going to be perfect. It doesn’t mean we’re going to get it right all the time.
When I was a teenager, I made a decision to follow Jesus. My grandfather was a pastor and I told him about how God was working in my life. I said, “I’m serious. I want to follow Jesus.” I made a commitment in high school as a freshman. He said to me, I will never forget it, ” he says, “Terry, because I am a little discouraged after I started it off with a pretty good start. I got a little discouraged.” My grandfather also says, “Terry, listen to me.” “It was one of the things I remembered him saying. He says, “if you are going to follow Jesus, then follow Jesus. If you’re going to do it, do it, but don’t do it halfway. Make up your mind because it doesn’t work halfway. It doesn’t work.”
That’s what Jesus was saying. If you want to come after me and be my follower, you’re going to have to be willing to be open to dying so that things can live. This kingdom works. It works, but it won’t work transformatively unless we’re willing to go all-in on it. To me, there’s no greater example, or at least there are a few greater examples of someone who was all in for God than the man that I’d like us to sit with, in the next few weeks to open up the year. That man’s name is John. They would later call him John the Baptist because he baptized people in the water for repentance to prepare the way of their hearts for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus. A Messiah he didn’t know at the time, but he just knew he was coming. Now, it’s interesting. Most of us have heard of John the Baptist. In fact, most of us think, oh, that’s his last name. That Baptist is his last name.
It really wasn’t. It’s John. He was the son of Zechariah. That’s been so long associated with him that I think it’s okay. It’s fine. Because then we immediately recognize, oh, of all the different Johns that are mentioned in the Bible that John the Baptist he’s, the forerunner of Jesus. He’s the one who baptized people and got them ready. That’s true. The only downside of that is it sort of obscures the other qualities that John had that are so outstanding. I look at his life and I look at the way he models things and I go, ah. He had his courage, his loyalty as we’re going to see, his passion, his fire, but most of all as we’ll explore it, his humility. The way we’re going to do this series, my contribution at the front end is to do three parts with John. Then we’ll have pastor Lewis and a few others share. Then I’m going to come back around again and do five more messages on John and how he models all-in for us and what that means for us. I’ve always wanted to preach on John.
All my years I’ve actually never ever really shared a study or teaching on John specifically for a period of time. I’m actually very excited about what we’re doing. Not just because of what we can learn from it, but because of what we can apply to it. You’re going to watch him wrestle with his identity, what it means to have to try to understand what has God been up to in my life right now. What does it mean to step forward courageously? What does it mean to step off the stage and let someone else walk onto it? What does it mean to have to live in the questions of why God isn’t showing up in the way that I thought he was going to? All these things are going to be explored and they’re all helpful for all in.
For the time that we have, I’ve got to hustle here. Let me look at the passage there in your handout, you can have your Bibles, or follow along with the Bible app. We’re going to quickly read through Luke 1:13-17. I’m not going to spend a lot of time there. I talked about this before, but I do want to connect how John’s birth occurred and what was said about him, and with what we ultimately jump into. So the Angel said to him, “do not be afraid, Zechariah. Remember that was John’s father. For your prayer has been heard. What prayer? That long-ago prayer that you forgot about, that prayer. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you’re going to call his name John. You will have joy and gladness and many, many are going to rejoice at his birth. He’s going to be great before the Lord. He must not drink wine or strong drink. His life is going to be characterized by an intense moral restraint. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit. Even from his mother’s womb. People are going to recognize the hand of God in his life. He is going to turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God. He’ll be a great reformer. He’s going to touch people, change people. In fact, he’s going to go before the people in the Spirit and in the power of Elijah.”
Elijah was a prophet. Here was the significance of Elijah if you study him in the older Testament. He was a prophetic reformer who came outside of culture and spoke into it. He didn’t speak into the culture and call it towards God. He came outside the culture. What we’re being told here is John will be someone who’s coming from outside the culture to speak into it. He was living at a time in history where the nation of Israel had, for the most part, forgotten God. Many people weren’t even thinking about God that much beyond him in some disconnected way.
Maybe there was another group of people who were following God at the time, the cultural sort of zeitgeist. The feel of the culture was that even people who were following the Lord were doing it more out of formality and more out of an obligation, out of a cultural sense. It was a disconnected thing from their heart. They put in their time, did the religious thing and it didn’t really affect how they were living, doing business, or building their lives. So John comes into the scene with this prosperous environment. Sounds familiar to me. My mind comes into the scene and he’s going to speak the words of God to a generation that is for the most part forgotten God or essentially said, without saying it, he’s really irrelevant to the everyday-ness of my life.
John’s going to come into that environment. It says here, “and he’s going to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, the disobedient to the wisdom of the just. He’s going to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” It’s almost like before he’s even born, his future is described as he’s going to be an impactor, but he’s going to be one who comes outside of culture to speak into it. Now, then what happens during those years? How does John grow up? What are the things that transpired in his life? We don’t know. What we know is everything is summarized in one verse. It’s amazing. Luke 1 is one of the longest chapters in the entire Bible. John is essentially the gap between John’s birth and when he emerges as the one who’s going to prepare the way for Jesus. All of that gap is basically summed up in one verse, verse 80. You can see it and read it with me. It says that “the child grew and became strong in the spirit and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel.”
We’re told here he was a man of the wilderness. We would call that kind of a man of the desert wilderness. Again, waiting outside of culture for the right time to engage it. Then that day came. Watch how it was described in Luke 3. This is where we’ll finish our scripture reading. Luke 3:1-6. Watch what the Bible does. It’s very important to the scripture that it is embedded into a historical context. I want you to know the time and who was leading the nation at the time and the Roman empire center. Watch what happens. It says “in the 15th year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar,” so we’re given something, Pontius Pilate, you’re going to recognize that name again. “Pontius Pilate, being the governor of Judea and Herod being tetrarch or the ruler of Galilee and his brother Philip, the ruler of the region of Iturea and Trachonitis.” Doesn’t that sound like an illness to you? I read it first and thought ‘I hope I don’t have it. Do I have Traconitis?’ Lysanias tetrarch of Abilene during the high priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas. Here’s the time.
You could almost say this is the beginning of the beginning. Watch how it unravels. We don’t know how long he’s been in the wilderness. He probably went sometime in his late teens. He leaves society and goes into the desert wilderness to live. But during that time, until he’s around 30 years old it says. The Word of God, I love this, the Word of God came to John the son of Zechariah when he was in the wilderness. The word of God came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. He responded. He went into all the regions around the Jordan. Look at that, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah, the prophet. He is the voice of one crying in the wilderness, “prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled. Every mountain hill shall be made low and the crooked shall become straight. And the rough places shall become level ways. All flesh will see the salvation of God.” Again, the Word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. A shift, a movement is about to begin. It begins in earnest if you will. The first note struck that will change the world forever. It begins here. The beginning of a movement of Jesus into this public world starts with the movement of John out of the wilderness to engage the culture. Watch what transpires. Something rattled in his spirit. Something triggered him into motion. He had been waiting in the wilderness and then it came.
The last time a prophet had been acknowledged in Israel had been some 400 years earlier. You look at your Bible and you’ll see the last book of the older Testament is the book of Malachi. Between Malachi and John, there was no prophet, no voice, no word, just silence. Silence. That was all. Like an eerie silence before a storm is about to hit. What a storm was about to hit. A man ablaze. A man on fire with a passion of God, who had been preparing and listening alone in the wilderness. Then the Word of the Lord came. How did that come to him? Was it a voice like an audible voice? Time to go, John. Was it an impression? A sign? He saw something that said, this is the time I’ve been prepared for. No one really knows. But what we do know is this, the Word of the Lord came to him. John knew when that happened, that the moment he had been told by his parents that he was born for.
The reason he had left civilization, if you will, that moment, the whole purpose of it was now upon him. Everything about it, he would emerge as a prophet of old. He lived in the Judean desert wilderness. I’m going to put a map up just because I think it’s always good for us to know. You see where Jerusalem is. You see what the dead sea is. All right. In between that, especially towards the south, the Judean wilderness. That’s where he was living. You can get different pictures of it. We were just there. Saw it with our own eyes. It looks a lot like what you’re about to see right here. This is a picture of it. That is essentially where John was living.
By the way, you see the difference is it’s not a true desert. It’s hilly. There are crevices. There are rocks. There are little oases and different places. There are little streams. For the most part, it’s desert. There’s a desert kind of wilderness to it. It has its unique beauty. When you see it, you are moved in some way. I used to disregard desert beauty. Growing up in San Francisco, I literally grew up on 47th avenue. My first memory was seeing the Pacific ocean. I remember growing up, that’s what I saw. I just took it for granted, but I realized what a beautiful thing it is. As the years went by, I realized what an amazing place San Francisco was, the beauty of the city, just geographically by the bay. The whole fact that there was just a few hours away, one of the greatest, beautiful, natural wonders of the world, Yosemite. I love Yosemite. I have to say it. It’s just absolutely gorgeous to me. When we were just a young family and through those early years into their teens, when all the kids would go together for the summer, we liked to go to national parks.
That was one of the things we liked to do because it was inexpensive and we could go on hikes together and kind of be outdoorsy. We were city kids, but that’s something we liked. I fell in love with it at a later period in my life. I’m saying all that, not because I’m about to show you the shots of all the Brisbane’s on vacation for the last 20 years. There were two national parks as the years went by that stood out to me because I saw a number of them. Two that stood out to me and caught me off guard because I wasn’t expecting to be affected by their beauty. One is one that you can actually drive to. One is Death valley. I know, how could that be? It was beautiful in its own way. But the other one was similar to it.
The Badlands of South Dakota. I didn’t even know about that. When I went there, I was stunned by the sparseness of its beauty. It reminds me of a little bit of the Judean wilderness. One of the things you see here in this shot of the Badlands at dusk. It is pretty cool because you can see the colors. Try to imagine what John was viewing on a rhythm of his life, the beige, the blue, the lavender, the vanilla cream, the yellow, and the orange. In the desert, one can think long thoughts. You can think long thoughts. In solitude. You can hear things clearly in a way that’s a little harder when we have people all around us. The silence, the loneliness, the sounds of silence. The ear becomes attuned to nature’s unique symphony when you’re that far out for that length of time. When you hear that symphony of nature through a spiritual lens, your heart begins to burn with a sense of God’s goodness and greatness as you stand in awe of the work and artistry of a master artist. Your heart is sensitized towards God.
In the desert, there’s no question that John got the desert in him. He’s a man of the wilderness. He’s a man of the wilderness. You’re going to see that he will use imagery when he comes and engages in the gospels. He’s going to use imagery that was no doubt tied to what he had seen in those years in the desert. He’ll say something to the Pharisees, you brood of vipers. Well, that’s imagery that he had seen. He’d seen the tangled mass of Vipers that could be seen in the desert wilderness at times. You fell into that kind of a hole, you were a dead man or a dead woman. No question.
He has seen trees that bore no fruit. They were either charred because they’ve been struck by lightning or have been scorched to a point where they were no longer alive. John says, “you are like a tree that bears nothing. The only purpose you have is to be cut down and used for firewood.” These were the images on his mind. It’s not like John never came into contact with people. He grew up around them. He was in a town in Judea. His father was a priest. He knew the ways of the temple. He had been to Jerusalem as a boy, as a young man. He was a PK, ‘Priest kid.’ That’s what he was. He grew up that way. It was just as an adult though that he had withdrawn. He had withdrawn into a more isolated life, perhaps making periodic forays into the towns or the cities. But for the most part, he was a man of the desert. You know that he dressed like one. When people saw John, they knew it immediately because this is what he’s described as in the gospel of Matthew. Check it out. Matthew 3:4, “John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. His food, he had a good diet, kept him lean. Locusts and honey in the wilderness if you knew where to find them, they were there in abundance. When he came, he was outside of culture, but he understood it. He had seen it with his own eyes. Growing up around it, watching it, knew what his purpose was. All right. Oh, it says there, a camel’s skin. In the middle east Camels were everything. Camels were an amazing thing. You’re looking at a car lot right there. Those are two cars. That was the transportation of their day. A camel. Camels are amazing creatures suited for carrying water and letting it last for long stretches of time. Perfect for the desert, the way they store it.
Camels were able to give milk. Obviously, at some point when the camel died, you could use it for clothing as well. John did in an absolute pinch and in the best way. If a person was at the point where they were utterly stuck and had nothing to eat well, that camel, you cannot eat your car, but you can eat a camel. Take it for what it’s worth. I just threw that in there for a bonus. The point is that John dressed like a prophet of the older Testament named Elijah. I don’t know if it was a coincidence or not. I don’t think it was because when people saw him, they said, oh, he reminds us of Elijah. What we read about Elijah wore the same type of garment. I think John was because his purpose and calling were similar.
John emerges preaching a message of repentance to a culture, again, that for the most part had forgotten God and had lost their sense of his real vitality at work in their life. His message was, you don’t understand this, but God’s about to do the thing he’s been talking about for a long time. You’re going to see it with your own eyes. I tell you the Messiah’s coming, but your heart needs to get ready. You need to serve God, you need to love God and I want to baptize any of you who are willing into the waters of baptism unto repentance so that you might say coming out of those waters, I am open to the new thing that God is doing. I was thinking about it because it says he baptized people in the Jordan River. The Jordan river, you can still see it, it is beautiful.
It’s not always flowing at this level, but you get an impression of where John would have baptized. That’s going to be a scenario where he’s ultimately going to be confronted with one of the most amazing moments in his life. When the Messiah he’s coming to introduce, introduces himself to John and says, would you baptize me? Every paradigm John has is assaulted right there because he’s saying, what do you mean I baptize you? I’m supposed to be baptized of you. I have things for us to think about moving into the year, drawing from what we just read about John, because I’m going to pick back up next week. Do you see this? Let me put it up there. Especially for those of us who are taking notes and trying to pay attention as best as we can, listening for God. Do you see the value of waiting? Waiting for the right time. Do you know it’s hard to wait well? It’s hard to wait well.
I have a couple of things in my own life that I’m having to wait on. It’s been very difficult for me to wait on them and to wait well, to wait well. Waiting well has to do with our attitude. It has to do with trust. It has to do with what we’re putting into ourselves in terms of the way we’re engaging God’s Word and allowing it to settle our anxious hearts. Waiting well, staying positive, not shrinking our world in fear. I have to be patient here and let this thing play itself out. I have to think about the long game here. John had learned to wait. You have to remember this. John’s nature was more impetuous like Peter’s.
He was thinking, ‘I need to get this done now, guy.’ This was the person he was. Some of us are like that. That had to get tamed in him. He had to wait for the time. Wait for the time. Wait until the time when the Word of God came to him in the wilderness. Now, by the way, some of us, again, may have a strong sense of something we want to do or address, but listen, the timing isn’t right. We may just have to wait.
Hear me out though. One of the things the Lord teaches us in the scriptures is clear about this. Waiting in the Bible, waiting doesn’t mean doing anything. Waiting actually is not a passive thing in the scriptures. It involves preparing. It involves positioning. In other words, I’m waiting, yes, but it is not a whatever approach to life. It’s waiting but there is a purpose and a positioning attached to it. This leads me to the second thought which is, the value of preparing or what I’m going to call tuning your soul. By acquainting ourselves with the Word of the Lord in a general sense so that when His specific word comes to us, we can hear it and know that the time is now. There is a power in solitude and silence. There’s a power in aloneness.
There is a power in pulling ourselves away from all the voices of our culture that are bombarding us all the time and taking up our time all the time everywhere in every way everywhere. Noise is everywhere and there is a power in pulling out of that. There’s a power in just quieting our soul and moving away from the noise. Yes, hear this one, lifting up our voice to the Lord because I think there’s a power in the spoken word to God. Audibly expressing ourselves to the Lord. I’m a believer in journaling, writing out my prayers. I do that. My thoughts before God, reading a scripture, jotting things down. All of that’s good. I listen in silence. I pray. But also there are times where I get alone and I just speak out my prayer to God and speak out my heart to God, sing to God. You almost need to have space to do that. You need to find a way to do that, to prepare for that.
In the city especially, we have to be able to carve out space. It’s not always that easy to do. It’s not like we just walk outside and we’re alone. It’s not that simple. That’s why I think it is one of the best places. Another reason the Bible is so relevant is one of the best times we can ever do that as urban dwellers is in the morning, early in the morning. Think about this, this was the way of Jesus. Look what it says here about Jesus in Mark 1:35. “Before the daybreak the next morning, Jesus got up and went out to an isolated place to pray.” Do you see that? I’m saying this to the young and to the old. In life, we are going to have hard patches, hard spaces, and places.
They may have to do with relationships and what they mean to us. It’s very hard when we’re having issues in that area of our lives. It affects everything. It may be relational or may have to do with our health. Physically, might be physical or emotional health. We’re having a hard time not feeling the way we’re feeling and it’s really hard for us right now. Or it might have to do with finances that are weighing on us or some of us might struggle with something that’s going on at our job right now, or a career path or a sense of confidence in our ability to provide for things and there’s fear there. Some of us struggle. I know this is true for two reasons. One, I’m reading a lot about what’s going on with the culture. But also because I hear so many stories every day in the church even. Many are struggling with anxiety. They’re anxious about things. We can go into seasons of depression where it’s hard to get motivated and we’re more depressed. It just seems like it adds to it. Some of us may have a broken heart. How do you get better? All these places are real things. Some things in our lives are so hard. The way through it is so delicate, so nuanced, so precarious. Make a wrong play here, a wrong move here, a wrong word here, a wrong choice here, I can fall, I can ruin this. I can destroy it. We can get scared. We can get paralyzed. We can get scared. How do I make my way through this? How do I wait? Am I supposed to wait? Am I supposed to act? What am I supposed to do? It can be fear-inducing.
It can be intimidating. There are some things in life that are very intimidating to us. Very hard, hard for us, hard for us. I was finding myself sitting with something. Something came to my mind, which was the 23rd Psalm. The part of the psalm where David who’s wrestling clearly says “Yes, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, the shadowlands, I will fear no evil. I will not live in fear. For you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me even in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup runs over. I will claim this promise. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”
Do you see how he’s pushing into the promise of God? Do you see that? He will show us the way, but we must stay close to the shepherd. The promise is that we need to claim and lean into, surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life. But we have to position ourselves for that. There are some situations that require a certain stance. Spiritually we have to figure out what is my growth plan for this time in my life for what we’re facing and then how do I work that stance? How do I work that practice? How do I work on that growth plan? I know it sounds like it’s just a little thing, a little rise, and shine. That could be part of a growth plan. Attainable, easy, doable. We’re adding to that. We’re interacting, we’re sitting with the words, we’re pondering them through the week. We’re taking this opening month seriously, we’re giving our best to listening for God. It could come in a lot of different ways. I’ll just have them throw this up. Waiting for things to pass or for the right time to act requires wisdom, patience, and preparation. It’s not passivity. It’s proactivity. I’m positioning myself for the moment that may not come. but by faith, I believe it will. So when it does, I want to be ready to respond.
Maybe it has to do with just learning how to be in a difficult place so that God can teach and grow us. There will come a season of maturity in our life that through the difficulty and the hard part of it, it ends up producing a life flow. Not that we would have said, I would take this life growth in me. If I could do this, we would probably go, no, I’d rather skip it, but we’re there. So then, how are we going to use that for God to work his purposes in our life? Do you see what I’m saying? I’ll add one more thing to that and we’ll leave it right here. There’s also the value, you can see it with John, there’s a value of action and initiation. In other words, to everything, there is a time and a season.
The Word of God came to John, the son of Zechariah, in the wilderness. It came and when it came, that was the moment. There are going to be moments when our time of waiting and preparation is over. When God is calling us to act, to move, to do, to respond. The time when the metal is hot or to use the language that John would later use, a time when the ax has to be laid to the root of the tree. There will be moments, those kinds of moments, when God is saying, there may be a time of waiting. It may be a time of preparation, but it may be a time to act and respond. A seasonal shift to put into play what we have learned. Time to put it into play.
Activate, not procrastinate. I want you to say that to someone. Can you turn to the person on your right and say activate, not procrastinate. Come on. Here we go. Activate, not procrastinate. On that note, we shall pray. Lord, I ask that you would help us to be responsive to you. Where are we? Where’s the handle? Are we in a time of waiting? Help us to wait well. Are we in a time of preparing as part of it then, what does it look like to prepare? Prepare our hearts to use this time well. What does that look like God, to position ourselves for your Word to come so we can recognize it. Then when that word comes and we recognize it, how do we move and respond to it? God, I ask that you move the Word of God to come to us. Help us to pursue this new year. Be open to your ways. We claim this promise as well. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.