New Year, New You! 
Oh geez do I dislike that phrase.  It immediately makes me feel prickly inside. 
Um, what’s wrong with the old me?  I’m an absolute delight!  

I have mixed feelings about the pressures we put on ourselves whenever a new year begins.  Sometimes we have worthy goals and aspirations in mind.  Beginning a new year provides great motivation to do something about what we’ve already been mulling over. 

Though are we going about change because of sincere desire or need, or because we feel guilted into it?  Being motivated to do something out of guilt as opposed to sincerity doesn’t bode well.  I would argue this point as a religious professional.  Too often I have seen the effects of what guilt and shame does to people when it comes to their personal belief systems.  Devotion based on fear of judgment is troubling.

There was a nice article in The Washington Post a few days agoinviting folks to pick out a “nudge word” as a new year begins as opposed to a resolution.  Tara Parker-Pope advised, “Instead of setting a specific goal, choose a word that captures the mind-set you want to adopt in 2023 — a word that will nudge you toward positive change whenever you think of it.”*  Making positive changes may feel more invitational.

In the church world, Epiphany Star Words are similar to nudge words.  Our congregation had the opportunity to pick up your star words on Sunday and they will remain out in the sanctuary this Sunday as well.  We also have some in the office if you’d like to stop by during the week.  The words are meant to guide us on our journeys of faith in this next year.  No pressure or guilt intended, just a word to guide you on your way.  Wishing you many blessings in the year ahead. 

Pastor Lauren

Photo by Rev. Lauren L. Ostrout

*Tara Parker-Pope, “Pick a New Year’s nudge word instead of a resolution” in The Washington Post, December 29, 2022,

Thursday Thoughts 1/5/23