We name the year.

Not like a Chinese New Year with its zodiac and twelve original animals, but as we name our newborn, so we name our new year, christen it so it knows who it is to us. Named, we now have a destination, a way across the next twelve months.

For me, 2008 was the year of eucharisteo. It was my word for the year, the word my tongue and heart rolled about over the last twelve months.

I named the year a Greek word and daily life was no longer completely Greek to me: indecipherable. I named the year eucharisteo and life began to take on new meaning. The Greek translation of Eucharisteo means to give thanks. It’s what Jesus did at the last supper, at the end of his earthly life, and what I committed to do with all of my life. To take up each day and give thanks for it, to take each moment and savor it, a morsel from His hand, and find sustenance and God in it.

In 2008 I began to learn what it means to live eucharistically; what it means to live giving thanks in all things.

2009 now needs naming.

As we prayed for each of the children’s names, so I’ve prayed for the right designation of this year. As there are threads through our children’s names: Caleb and Joshua…. Hope and Shalom…. So God has tied 2008’s eucharisteo to the naming of this string of days.

2009: the year of Communion.

Giving thanks, eucharisteo, gives us that: communion. Eucharisteo is what Jesus did at the Last Supper. Communion is what we do when we remember the Last Supper, take again the bread and the wine. Both eucharisteo and communion are a way of living. To live all in thanksgiving, to live all the time with Christ.

But, really, maybe communion is just a way of waking up to reality of real living. Because the truth is, He is here always: “Lo, I am with you always.”

On New Year’s Day, last year, I had drifted to sleep on the couch in late afternoon sunlight, book in hand, children circled about with legos and books too. And a chubby hand had patted my cheek, tugged me awake, with words that rang me, the New Year, that still chime vigorously in 2009:

“Wake up! Wake up! I’m doing a new thing.”

They were the words of an excited toddler that seemed, to me, to echo the heart of an earnest God, God who didn’t want me to miss Him and the change He was bringing to me, this home, this earth.

2009 I endeavor to wake up! wake up! to God who is with me always. Can I pay attention for the next 365 days to He who never leaves me, never forsakes me, who is closer to me than my own skin, who inhabits me on the inside?

It’s really want we want, what we seek, what we’re made for: communion. Communion fills the empty places, not consumption.

Why do we think we need more food, more things, more thrills, more distractions, when what we really need is more God? Too often I forget.

When I name a year, I remember what this time is about. I say it again and again to myself, like whispering a child’s name in curl of ear, soothing with the reminding of who they are: Communion, not consumption.

Recollecting what this time is about, this year’s name, I remember again who I am in this time: I am made for communion, not for consumption.

It comes in daily, ordinary ways, union of dust and divine…

  • Speaking truth aloud to myself, to God, as I work: You are here, close, and I love You, Lord. This work is my song of praise to You.
  • Singing love songs after meals, as I put away the laundry: Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart, naught be all else to me, save that thou art.
  • Clinging to Him when the day and I unravel: Give me grace, Father. You are here and You’re my help. I need You!
  • Pausing, intentionally and purposefully, to pray at set times throughout the day: O God of heaven and earth, I bow low…

Communion comes in common ways.

And living in the awareness of knowing His intimate, unending presence, transforms. Doesn’t always living with someone change one? I’m discovering how living in Christ-communion is to live in a posture of response, a daily dance of closeness, Him leading and me following, feet and heart responding to the Spirit’s movements.

In solitary living, living oblivious and blind to He who dwells within, we blithely have our own way. Communion causes us to grow more into the image of Him with whom we live, old partners who come to look alike, move in tandem.

Yet, looking out at 2009, a year of intending to wake up and commune with Christ, I feel but a bit of the wonder and fear of the motto of John Donne’s youth:

How much shall I be changed before I am changed.”

The year’s named Communion.

And I wake up to the hope of change.

Lord, cause us to commune. And cause me to change.

Part of a series this week on time and the new year
Photo: quiet places here this 2009