This weekend we gather in the midst of new resolutions. I don’t know about you but I do not have a great track record of keeping my promises made for a new year. The numbers tell us that I am not alone, most of us do not keep our resolutions, no matter how helpful, important, or desired. In spite of this year after year we look forward to a fresh start, to being able to try to do some things different, and it is helpful that we put it in writing, share it with friends, and build an accountability network around us.
At the center of the Christian faith is a call to conversion. Conversion is at it’s core about changing, growing, maturing, and a new start. What if this year we think about our resolutions more reasonably through the lenses of our Christian faith?
What would reasonable resolutions look like? For us as individuals? For us as a body called Grace Community?
In my first gathering with our church leaders last year I shared an antiphon from a setting of the 23rd Psalm by one of my favorite contemporary hymn writers Marty Haugen:
“Shepherd me, O God, beyond my wants, beyond my fears, from death into life”
I recognize today that before we can begin making resolutions for a different kind of life we must first let go of our own desires, agendas, and plans. We must allow God to “wipe the slate clean” and help us see with the eyes of Christ! It is only then that our resolutions for ourselves and our community can begin to guide all of us from death (life-taking, life-draining, same actions expecting different results, anxiety and fear centered, self-centered, etc.) into life (life giving, joy producing, fruitful, freedom and peace centered, reconciling and common good based, etc.).
Along the way there are three movements that we might want to think about and watch for:
The first is that at times our plans will have to be adjusted. Circumstances change, we change, we learn more information, are better aware of ourselves and those around us . . . the list is endless but our willingness to re-route is key to our ongoing conversion from death to life, from self-likeness to Christ-likeness.
We also need to recognize that we cannot do it alone neither can we do it for someone else. Our transformation as individuals and as a community begins with us, with recognizing our need for God, our brokenness, our pain, and our propensity for self-deception. But then we move to the recognition that we are indeed related to others, that the community around us also struggles in these ways, and that we have the opportunity to find others to guide us towards wholeness (towards salvation) and as we heal we then have the opportunity to guide others. We are called to a related life.
Finally we are called to reach out in word and deed as a transformed people! The fact that most Americans make resolutions tells us that our culture is hungry for change, for transformation, for something more. We as people of faith know the answer to that hunger, to the ways that our world does not reflect the love, peace, and joy of Jesus Christ, and to the heartbreak of feeling like nothing changes year after year. To reach out as a converting people means that we are space makers for reconciliation, that we are constantly seeking justice, restoration, and transformation.
I’m excited about a new year with its possibilities, potential, and surprises. I am thankful that we have a new opportunity to renew our call to restored lives that are companioned, formed, and sent as a missionary people, agents of God in the transformation of our city and beyond!!
May it be so . . .