A Brighter Day: Hopes for 2007

Here at home with the family this New Year’s Eve. We’re spending a very lazy and quiet evening at home, and it’s wonderful.

Honestly, these days any evening we all get at home together is wonderful. And we’ve actually spent much of this holiday being homebodies…as we were at Thanksgiving too.

Longtime friends/readers will note the absence of a virtual Christmas card this year. We started a rough draft about two weeks ago, but just couldn’t get it done. Probably not a bad thing to give it a year off anyway. And, if you read back through my blog, you’ll probably be able to get the highlights of the year there.

So, tonight we say goodbye to 2006. And, as with the Christmas letter, I can’t find the energy to write some long recap for the year.

It did seem to me that there were a surprising number of depressing stories out in the world this year. There were a few notable exceptions, of course.

Right after New Year’s last year, my Longhorns became national champions. And, I will remind you, they will remain champions for the next seven days, and approximately 23 hours…but who’s counting.
Happy

The Mavs made it to the NBA Finals, and that was a very cool thing. My blog on the “Phantom Fouls” became semi-viral for a few days, but it’s all but passed now. I am still amazed, however, at the number of folks who still watch/comment on the YouTube videos each month.

The year was marked by a surprising number of governmental resignations:
Mark Foley, Tom Delay, Duke Cunningham, Donald Rumsfeld, Bob Ney, and hosts of others.

Democrats, as you know, swept into the US House in national politics, and the courthouse in the local scene.

This year included the largest single-day protest in not only Dallas history, but TEXAS history, with the incredible MegaMarch of Palm Sunday. As I blogged about at the time, I believe this was a seminal event for Dallas and for our area. And when our history is written years from now, we may look back at it as the single most important local news story. But while half a million marched on that day, a suburban city council passed restrictions on undocumented workers in their town too.

We actually found out this year that spinach can sometimes be bad for you, during an unusual E Coli scare this summer. (who knew?)

There was a horrifying school shooting in Lancaster County, PA, and an moving and inspiring response of love and forgiveness from the families of the victims. Taught us all a little about what Christians ought to do all the time, but what is still a very rare response, indeed.

But the AP tells us the top story of the year was the Iraq War. (Hurricane Katrina got that honor last year, but the Iraq War has, sadly, made a comeback…)

More than 25,000 Americans have been killed or wounded there, including more than 800 killed this year. And now, just this afternoon, comes word that the 3,000th American has died there: a young, 22-year-old Texan. Some analysts now call the situation there “Civil War.”

Gerald Ford died, and died just this past week. Ann Richards died this year. (And I never did blog about her, even though I intended to…) And so did Lloyd Benson and Coretta Scott King. As I noted elsewhere, Buck O’Neil died, and so did James Brown.

Saddam Hussein was executed two days ago. Seems like a mostly empty gesture these days, given how the war is going. Seems like a sad gesture, given my own opposition to capital punishment.

All in all, a pretty depressing year for the world of world news. As with last year, probably a year a lot of folks are pleased to this year go. Perhaps in a time of war, we’re more glad to see a year end than normal, and more hopeful than usual that the following year might be better? Who knows.

Well, I don’t have any great wisdom to empart tonight.

But my friend, Bryn, aka “Paula the Music Junkie,” did send me a fun link to a really great Kevin So video the other day. It’s to his song, “Brighter Day,” and I thought you might enjoy it:

Kevin’s a Kerrvert from way back, and a fantastic singer-songwriter who I’ve had the good fortune to meet several times.

The song’s pretty catchy, huh? And honestly, as I sit here right now, right at an hour from the year’s end, it’s as good a sentiment as I can think of.

Whatever you think of the year that is ending, and where ever your leads you in the year that is ahead, may 2007 be filled with many brighter days; for us, and for the world.

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Eric Folkerth is a minister, musician, author and blogger. He has been Senior Pastor of Northaven United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas since 2001. During his tenure, church membership has grown almost 30 percent, and a completely new church facility (sanctuary and education building) has been constructed. Northaven is a leading progressive Christian congregation in the Southwest. Northaven is an eclectic collection of gay and straight families, artists, musicians, theater folks, academic theologians, lawyers and judges (go figure), socially conscious community activists, people who don't "check their brain at the door," and a wide array of others who either see it as their "last chance" inside the "institutional church," or their first trip back in decades. Eric is an avid blogger and published author.  Eric is also an award-winning singer-songwriter, who performs throughout Texas and the Southwest. He's an engaging live performer whose first CD was released in 2000. His songs have won honorable mention in both the Billboard and Great American song contests; and he's been a finalist in the 5th Street Festival and South Florida Folk Festival songwriter competitions. Eric is also a leader of Connections, a unique band comprised of United Methodist clergy and layfolk from throughout North Texas. Connections performs "cover shows" of artists like Dan Fogelberg, Chicago, Eagles, Doobie Brothers, Billy Joel, Stevie Wonder, James Taylor and others. Their shows draw crowds of between 300 and 1,000 fans, and they have raised more than $240,000 dollars for worthy charities. Eric has led or co-led hundreds of persons on mission trips around the globe, to places such as Mexico, Haiti, Russia, and Nepal. He has worked with lay persons to build ten homes, and one Community Center, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity of Dallas. He's a popular preacher, and often tackles challenging issues of social justice in his writings and sermons. His wife, Judge Dennise Garcia, is a State District Judge for Dallas, County. As judge of the 303rd Family District Court, she consistently gets high ratings from area lawyers, and was named "best judge" by The Dallas Observer. First elected in 2004, she was the first Latina ever elected to a county-wide bench in Dallas County. She was re-elected for a third term in 2010. They have the world's best daughter, Maria, and an incredible dog, Daisy. (As always, if you like this post, then "like" this on Facebook by clicking the box below, so others can see too...)

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