To Be Free in 2023

by Christine Sine

by June Friesen

As I have been preparing myself for the ending of 2022 I have contemplated the things I have done, the memories I have made that I treasure, and the memories made that I may not treasure so much. In recent times it is hard sometimes to believe all the things one has experienced as real. It can also be rather daunting to think about the things that may be in the future. When Jesus was with His disciples He no doubt realized that He had a very brief time to impart to them Who He really was and what it was that He was really going to do for the benefit of all of humanity. I contemplated what it might be that many if not most of us would like to embrace and hold close in the year ahead of us. And I was reminded of the words of Jesus in John 14 as He was preparing the disciples for the time when He would no longer be visibly with them. I begin with verse 23 as for me it really describes our world today. 

John 14:24-27 23-24 “Because a loveless world,” said Jesus, “is a sightless world. If anyone loves me, he will carefully keep my word and my Father will love him—we’ll move right into the neighborhood! Not loving me means not keeping my words. The message you are hearing isn’t mine. It’s the message of the Father who sent me.


25-27 “I’m telling you these things while I’m still living with you. The Friend, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send at my request, will make everything plain to you. He will remind you of all the things I have told you. I’m leaving you well and whole. That’s my parting gift to you. Peace. I don’t leave you the way you’re used to being left—feeling abandoned, bereft. So don’t be upset. Don’t be distraught.

Yes, Jesus realized that the disciples would no doubt be rather puzzled, bereft and fearful the moment His physical presence would no longer be with them – there would only be a spiritual presence, the kind that you and I have in today’s world. So He assured them they would not be altogether alone but rather His spiritual presence would continue with them through the Holy Spirit. That Spirit is also the Spirit that lives here in this atmosphere, around us and within us trying to reassure us that God cares and He is what we need to know real love, joy and peace. So for you and I today I offer these words which kind of share the struggle we may find at times in our spirits. I will give a gift/exercise at the end that will allow God to endue you with a fresh presence of His Spirit.


The Gift of Peace

What is this thing that you are talking about?
Peace – you tell me that there is to be a quietness?
Where is it that you find this quietness?
Certainly it is no where in this world –
Look at all the loneliness –
Look at all the sadness –
See all the tear-stained faces –
Never mind the tears still rolling down many faces.
Look at all the chaos –
Look at all the confusion –
See the people running to and fro –
Wondering where they should go.
Look at all the frustration –
Look at all the franticness –
People crashing and clashing –
People dashing and bashing.
Look at all the running
Hither and thither
Here and there
Directionless it seems.
Sirens are wailing from time to time –
Fighter planes practice flights overhead –
Crisis noises arising when one least expects it –
Oh Lord – I ask, “Where is peace?”
Certainly this world seems to be lacking
Peacefulness in many avenues –
So is it really possible to actually
Embrace and/or create some peace.
Or is it that peace is defined differently
By God and humanity –
Does God have one definition in His plan
And humanity has yet to truly know His plan.
The struggle of peace –
The confusion of peace –
The presence of peace –
The gift of peace – ……
The struggle of peace in this world is for sure real
As everywhere one looks even outside one’s own door
There is pain of all kinds –
Someone has lost a loved one, a job, or their ability to care for themselves,
There is pain of all kinds –
Loneliness, dementia, terminal illness, and more –
Yes, the pain faced in this world is real.
Someone has lost their home –
Shelter for themselves and family is impossible
As their paycheck or social security does not meet the bills.
Another has lost their health
And is unable to care for their daily needs –
Where does one go as all facilities are so expensive –
And so they wander the streets in a daze.
Another has lost a loved one tragically –
Doesn’t really want to live another day –
Painful sobs rack their body
As the tears seem to flow unceasingly.


So I ask – where oh where is this gift of peace?
And- how do you define this gift of peace?
And if our definitions are different –
How is it possible that we can both have peace?
Let me share a few thoughts on peace –
Peaceful is the night when all is quiet
The stars are twinkling
The moon is shining
And one can hear their own heart beat.
Peaceful is the night when there is safety –
No sirens or loud crashes –
No screams or clashes of voices –
Peace is in caring so others are not hurt and broken.
Peaceful is the night when there is
No growling empty stomachs –
No forlorn and empty eyes staring –
Peace is seeking to find help for the needy.
Peace is the night when there is sharing –
Reaching out a hand to comfort –
Reaching out to dry a tear –
Embracing another with a warm, peaceful embrace.
Yes, peace is definitely an almost forgotten gift in the world today –
There is so much clamor for the things that this world offers at this time –
The gifts, the parties, the gatherings, the festivities and so much more
And in the hearts of most the peace is often obscured and sadly in many even forgotten.
In the moment right now – what are you thinking?
Where do you find yourself?
Centered on yourself and what is important to you today?
Or will you be focused on others to help them have a better day?
Today I offer to you an opportunity to make a choice –
Yes, I am going to encourage each of us to take a moment or two
To ponder and maybe even realize that peace has somehow
Gone away in the craziness – or at least gotten lost for the moment.
Take a moment right now –
Sit down or just relax standing where you are –
Breathe and feel the breath enter your body –
Stop – hold that breath
And imagine it coursing through your lungs
And out into your arms and legs
And into your fingers and toes –
Now – it has nurtured your body once more with life energy.
Now – exhale slowly –
Imagine the air returning from your fingertips and toes –
Through your feet and your hands
Into your legs and your arms
Back into your lungs and out into the world –
And in that moment say
“God grant peace to all”


(repeat this exercise as often as needed throughout your day, week and/or year)


All writing and photos by June Friesen. Scriptures is from The Message Translation.


Following The Star Into the New Year


In January we celebrate Epiphany and the coming of the Magi to visit Jesus. Like them, many of us feel we are on a long journey following a star that is sometimes bright and shining, sometimes completely hidden yet still guiding us towards Christ. 2022 taught us important lessons that will shape the coming year. We sense God wants to do something new in our lives and we want to follow in the right direction.

Join Lilly Lewin and Christine Sine online Saturday, January 7th 2023 from 9:30 am PT to 12:30pm PT as they help us reflect on the past year and take time to hope, dream and pray for the year ahead. We will engage in some fun practices like chalking the door and interact with each other in ways that strengthen our faith and draw us closer to God.

Click here to register! We are once again offering several price points to aid those who are students or in economic hardship.

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