New Year’s resolutions. We always have New Year’s resolutions. We’ve been participating in this cultural practice for a long time – like thousands of years! For Western culture, the orgins of our resolutions come from the mythical Roman god/king Janus, the two-faced god of new beginnings and transitions. This is also where we get our name for the month January, the first month of each new year. Sometime around 153 BC the Romans began putting Janus on the January calendar; looking forward to the future while also looking back over the past with his two faces.
Some of our resolutions are lighthearted. You know the ole I’m going to do “this” or “that” less and “this” or “that” more. For many of us this involves weight loss and general health. It’s no accident that gyms and excercise facilities offer great deal this time a year to help you fulfill your resolution. Eat less, excercise more becomes our mantra. Some of our resolutions are much more serious. We pledge to quit smoking or drinking; to mend broken marriages and relationships; to be more open to new ideas; to take that vacation we’ve put off for three years; to play more and work less.
And then there’s the resolutions that have to do with our faith. Many of you that I have spoken with on facebook and in person over the past several days have mentioned a desire to read the Bible more, pray more, and to attempt to enter into a deeper relationship with God in 2012. The main force behind these pledges is unseen, a gentle nudging; a feeling that we should be doing those things more. And here on New Year’s Eve, the beginning of a new cycle, those gentle nudges and feelings come back to us. I would suggest to you that these gentle nudges are none other than the eternal Word John spoke of last week in our Christmas Day scripture. God’s Holy Spirit speaking to you in a time when you are perhaps more apt to listening….
So how do we keep these resolutions? With regard to the spiritual ones, know that you aren’t alone. You have a body of believers in your local church that have pledged to uplift and support you in your faith (this is literally in our membership vows). And your church has resources to guide you. If you’re wanting to read your Bible more, join in the daily Bible reading guides that I put out about once a month. For a year now we’ve been reading the Bible together with a daily Bible reading guide based on daily lectionary readings. Perhaps it’s time for you to join us. If you’re wanting to go deeper in your faith I invite you to the Christianity 101 class that will be starting up later this month along with the upcoming FAQ series I will be starting on this blog (you have to come to church to hear more about this!). Finally, let me know your resolutions so that I can pray for you!
But in this time of celebrating the beginning of a new year, new beginnings, new cycles, new transitions, decisions to mend broken relationships with each other and God, perhaps our best resolution isn’t really a resolution at all – more like a realization. We talked in Advent about the scandal of Emmanuel: God with us. Now, as we transition from the expectant hope of Advent to the joy of Epiphany, we know that God has come to be among us, for us, with us. Paul communicates this realization in his letter to the Ephesians 3: In former generations this mystery was not made known to humankind, as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit:6that is, the Gentiles have become fellow heirs, members of the same body, and sharers in the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. In other words, our greatest resolution for this new year is the realization that God came for us, you and me. The call is to live out our resolutions far beyond the month of beginnings and into the rest of our lives.
Happy New Year!
Blessings for the journey.