Happy New Year of Peace!

This year’s “sips of scripture” will come from Melodie M. Davis’s 366 Ways to Peace, a perpetual calendar published by Herald Press (available at the Mennonite Publishing Network website). The calendar features short quotations on peace, and a scripture related to peace.

Melodie M. Davis has also been an encouraging voice to us at “a simple desire” over the years. As one of the editors at Mennonite Media with (I believe) editorial responsibility for Sip of Scripture, it could have been the case that she felt threatened by “a simple desire” and our attempts to comment on the daily scripture. Instead, she has been nothing but supportive of our efforts.

So, let us welcome in the new year with our minds, hearts, and actions directed towards peace!

Some New Year’s guidance for young and old

“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.” (Ephesians 6:4 )

We are into a new year. And I had assumed Sip of Scripture had started on its new theme for the year of verses and biblical passages on peace. However, in checking on the website I found not the verse I had expected for January 1st of 2010, but the remaining verse from the book Reading from the Anabaptist Bible and being the conscientious sort, I wanted to make sure both verses were included and commented on.

Menno Simons wrote simply and eloquently on raising children, and I do not think his advice could be much improved upon by any modern day child psychologist: “. . . let us be mindful and solicitous of our own children, and let us display unto them a still greater degree of spiritual love than with others; for they are by nature born of us, of our flesh and blood, and are so solemnly committed to our special care by God. Therefore be sure that you instruct them from their youth in the way of the Lord, that they fear and love God, walk in all decency and discipline, are well mannered, quiet, obedient to their father and mother, reverent where that is proper, after their speech honest, not loud, not stubborn, nor self-willed; for such is not becoming to children of saints. The world desires for its children that which is earthly and perishable, money honor, fame, and wealth. From the cradle they rear them to wickedness, pride, and idolatry. But let it be otherwise with you, who are born of God, for it behooves you to seek something else for your children, namely, that which is heavenly and eternal so that you may bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, as Paul teaches.”

This new year will be no different from any other year as far as what the ‘world’ teaches children. As parents and educators we should follow the same principles in this new year as in previous years, and as Simons suggests. But it is not just children that needs this type of guidance. Anyone who is new in the faith needs nurture and admonition. Furthermore, even ‘old’ Christians could benefit from such care.

What and how we teach our children in the coming year will have bearing on still future years to come. How we conduct our own lives will be model and example for our youth. It is a large and important task. May we, in this new year, be blessed and graced by God’s wisdom and love for the task. Selah!

New Beginnings with an Ancient Concept

“Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” (1 John 3:18 )

It is the first day of the new year. Traditionally resolutions are made on this day, promises to one’s self and to others whose goal is to improve on past behaviors and patterns. Some resolutions last for the whole year, some for several months, and some do not last the day. Most of the new year’s resolutions are borne of good intentions. But good intentions can be dashed by human nature and the realities of life.

This verse from 1 John speaks of good intentions, but correctly states that in order for good intentions to last they must be backed up by actions. Moreover, not just actions but actions that are carried out honestly and wholeheartedly. Words are easy to speak, and easily trip out over the tongue. But actions are done by muscle and sinew, heart and spirit. Actions speak where words falter.

I do not know what your new year’s resolutions will be. This year Sip of Scripture has resolved to focus on peace, and I would suspect many times the word “peace” in the verses will stand for shalom. And shalom is action truthfully done. However shalom is more than just peace; the end result of shalom is peace, but it has its roots and foundations in so much more.

The writers of A Simple Desire invite you to journey with us this year as we ponder on these verses that describe the multiple ways of peace, and how we as God’s children can carry out peace in our actions and in truth. Let us begin. And Shalom!