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Message for the New Year

By Archpriest George Shalhoub

Beloved,

I know for a fact that within a few days the New Year will be knocking at each and every one of our doors. Many will go to parties and celebrate, others will stay home and many of our beloved will be spending their New Year’s Eve in refugee camps, in dilapidated homes or going to church that has lost its roof by the bombings. The news in our city of Detroit will be even more frightening with another person or child being murdered.
 
When I drove to church on Sunday, December 27th, much to my sadness, I noticed Christmas trees already piled on both sides of the road; thrown away, a sign that Christmas is over. The celebration of lights and songs will soon be dimmed and removed.
 
2015 has passed and 2016 is within our reach. I will not give you advice as to what your resolution should be, but I will sit down and reflect on my resolution for the New Year. For the 66 years that I have lived, the New Year did not mean much to me, but Christmas did. For Christmas, to me, is a constant reminder that God’s love is steady and irrevocable. It fills my heart so I will be ready to face the world at any time.
 
I promise to be a better pastor, a better husband and a better dad and grandfather in the coming year. But I pray that I can face all my challenges with courage and confidence to be faithful to my household, which is my first church, and to the larger household, which is the family and community of St. Mary’s.
 
If my resolution is based in my faith, in Christ and His Holy Church, I will always know my salvation is near, even if I did not lose the weight I wanted to. For this reason, I make my own resolution because the only one I can change is myself. “If anyone is in Christ, he/she is a new creation. The old has gone and the new has come.”  (II Corinthians 5:17)
 
So the New Year comes to give me new opportunities and fresh hope to stay the course, to forgive, to reconcile, and to leave behind all the worries and tragedies of the world because the New Year will give us its own tragedy and worries. So, if I live in the New Year, I live for the Lord and if the Lord is with us, who can be against us.
 
Our most powerful asset, as Orthodox Christians, is our prayers. I can only recommend to you to make a new resolution to spend 5 minutes every day praying for peace, your nation, your church and your family. And in return, I will always keep you in my prayers.
 
So I pray that God’s love and blessings will come to all so growth and success will be from the Lord. 
 
Blessed New Year to all.
The Very Reverend George Shalhoub
Antiochian Orthodox Basilica of St. Mary in Livonia, MI
 
New Year Prayer
 
Christ our Lord, You who provide the rains and fruitful seasons, and hear the prayers
 of those who humbly seek You, accept also our requests about our needs
 and concerns and deliver us from worry, danger and sin.
 Your mercies are as abundant as Your works. Bless all our activities, direct our steps by
 Your Holy Spirit, and forgive' our shortcomings. Lord, bless the year with Your goodness
 and make it a year of grace for all of us.  Give peace to the world, especially the Middle East,
 
Our nation and cities and above all, our homes. O Lord, Creator of all things,
who by Your authority have established times and seasons,
bless the beginning of our Church year with Your goodness; preserve Your people in peace,
and through the intercessions of the Theotokos, save us.
 
Amen.