Reflections from the Rector - January 2019
This is the time of year when I can’t check my e-mail without having to dodge the barrage of advertisements that promise me that if I will just purchase a product, or take on a New Year’s resolution, or believe enough in myself, I will finally experience having a “new year, new me.” Now don’t get me wrong: many of these advertisements skillfully start from a place that I agree is good. I can’t argue with someone who wants to become more healthy, spend more time with their families, pray more, or give more to charity. There are many New Year's disciplines and resolutions born out of good things that we could be doing.
My frustration is with the false promise that doing these things will somehow make me a new person. As someone who has tried every type of classic resolution I can think of, they’ve each ended the same way: in failure to complete. By about February, if I even make it that far, the jig is up! I’ve realized that I am, in fact, the same me. I’m the same Erin who loves pizza, who hates house cleaning, who forgets people’s birthdays. No matter how hard I try, I always have to eventually realize that pulling myself up by the resolution bootstraps never works.
As Christians, we are not asked to remake ourselves each year, because we have surrendered to the truth that we have no power in ourselves to help ourselves. Any way that we might be changed, anyway in which we might be made new, will happen not through resolution, but through resurrection, and the only one with any power to give us that fresh start is Jesus himself.
Instead of placing my trust in resolutions that I know I will fail at accomplishing, I am placing my trust in a God whose faithfulness knows no bounds. Even if I were to try having a resolution, I know I would end up right back at my old habits and in my old haunts, and right back at the feet of that same faithful God, whose property is always to have mercy on me when I never live up to my expectations.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with having resolutions. If you have some, I wish you well! But if you fail at these resolutions, and when you fail at other goals in your life, I pray you will remember that at the end of the day we are all prodigal, and God is always ready to adorn us in finest robe and ring.
With love and prayers for us as we begin a new year,