Last January I chose “blossom” as my word of the year—or perhaps the word chose me, for as I pondered and prayed over the coming year, “blossom” kept coming back to me. What will open up for me in 2019? I wondered. Where will God channel my energy and vision? How will this year grow and blossom?
One unexpected blossoming this year has been my new role as editor of Purpose, which is a monthly magazine of everyday inspiration. In March I had some overlap with the previous editor, and in April I worked on my very first issue. Given the long lead time and production schedule that meant my first issue would be December 2019!
Now finally my first issue of Purpose is out in the world, and to celebrate I have permission to share my editorial and discussion guide below. What’s more, from now until Christmas, my publisher is offering 40% off the subscription price for any new subscribers. In the U.S. that means a new subscription is just $18.00 USD, and you can subscribe online to Purpose here. In Canada a new subscription is just $23.94 CAD including the GST, and you can phone in your subscription toll free 1-800-245-7894.
If you’re not already a subscriber, this is a great opportunity to get a one-year trial at a reduced price. It makes a great gift to introduce a friend or family member to Purpose, or to sign up for a church subscription if you don’t already have one. This is an encouraging and inspirational little magazine to have available in your church foyer or wherever there’s a waiting room, and each issue now includes a one-page guide for discussion that turns the magazine into a resource for small groups too.
To whet your appetite for more of Purpose, below is my December 2019 editorial followed by the discussion guide. You can also read the first feature story, “Happy Birthday in a Parking Lot” by Hugo Neufeld, and if you’re interested in writing for Purpose, you can find writer guidelines, upcoming themes, and deadlines on the Purpose website. As you can tell, I’m so grateful and excited by this new blossom in my life—thank you for letting me share my excitement with you!
God Still Speaks
Last year I felt a new wind of the Spirit blowing in my life—for me to complete my pastoral work with my congregation, to invest more deeply in my writing, while also remaining open to new ministry in another setting. At the time I had a contract to write a book of sermons, several smaller writing assignments, and a few speaking invitations, but mostly I had a lot of questions.
After 25 years in ministry with the same congregation, was I now ready to say goodbye? Would my husband and I move out of the city and away from the church? How would I make the transition from pastoring full-time to the more fluid gig economy of a writer?
At the time I had no idea that I would soon have a new role as resident author with a liturgical worship community and this new responsibility as editor of Purpose. I’m grateful for both of these opportunities and for the way God has been speaking into our lives during this time of transition. Yes, both the church and I were ready to say goodbye. No, we didn’t move out of the city, but yes, we went looking for a new church home.
This issue of Purpose includes many more examples of God speaking into everyday life. At Christmas and throughout the year, in Scripture, prayer, and other ways, God still speaks.
Since this is my first issue of Purpose, I’d also like to draw attention to two modest changes.
Modest change #1 is the addition of brief writer bios at the end of each article and column. As you read through this issue, you’ll discover who’s written for Chicken Soup for the Soul, who practices law, and much more. Each time a writer appears in Purpose, their brief bio will change, so over time readers will get to know our writers along with their great content.
Modest change #2 is a new column titled In Response, which is for personal use or for anyone leading an adult education class or midweek group. This one-page guide includes an introduction, discussion questions, a suggested practice, and a prayer based on Purpose. I hope this new feature will help readers and congregations respond to the theme of each issue.
Writer Bio: When not editing Purpose, April Yamasaki writes online and in print publications, and speaks widely in churches and other venues.
In Response: Speak, Lord
“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe” (Hebrews 1:1-2).
Begin by considering how God spoke through the life, teaching, death, and resurrection of Jesus. This is the lens through which we understand God speaking to us in other ways.
- In Jesus’ birth narrative, God spoke to Mary through an angel, to Joseph in a dream, to the magi by a star. In this issue of Purpose, Don Augsburger describes a vision, Judith Rost recalls a sense of “warm peace,” Steven Thompson receives a “strong impression,” and several other writers refer to specific verses of Scripture and times of prayer. In what ways has God spoken to you?
- In Psalm 44:23-24, the psalmist complains that God seems to be asleep. In her personal letters, Mother Teresa confessed that God often seemed silent. While we may sometimes feel this way too, Scripture reassures us that God remains faithful (2 Corinthians 4:17-18; Philippians 4:6-7). How do you cope in those times when God seems silent?
- Stephanie Hertzenberg shares how God spoke to her through the words of a favorite Christmas song. What Christmas carol speaks deeply to you, and why?
Lectio divina is literally a “divine reading”—not skimming quickly or reading for information, but reading prayerfully through Scripture with time for silence and reflection to listen for God.
To practice lectio divina, read through Psalm 46 slowly and out loud, asking God to speak to you. Pause for a moment of silence, then read the passage again and notice where your attention rests. Stay with that word or phrase as you read the passage a third time. Ask God how this word or phrase speaks into your life and circumstances. Then rest again in silence, give thanks, and live into the word or phrase that you have received.
Speak, Lord, for your servants are listening. Prick up our ears, make us attentive to your leading, grant us patience during times of silence, and deepen our trust in you. Amen.
For new subscribers, Purpose is just $18.00 USD or $23.94 CAD including GST.
For U.S. subscribers, please subscribe online to Purpose here.
In Canada please call toll free 1-800-245-7894.
This offer lasts from now until Christmas.
For more on everyday acts of faith,