We’re so close – within sight and breathing distance! A New Year is about to appear and all those past year shadows and rays of sunshine and challenges met and challenges unmet and mountains climbed and mountains too steep and valleys slogged through and valleys left for another day and moments of laughing until you cried and moments of crying until you wondered if you would ever laugh again – well, they’re over. 2016 is now put in the archives of mind and hard drive and thumb drive and left for TBT’s to pull out in some future week as a reminder that we weren’t born yesterday.
So what do we do now, on the threshold of a year that’s new?
Some brainiac at some point came up with the idea that we should resolve stuff. What better time to resolve stuff than before life starts happening and we get so caught up in living we forget to think about resolving. So we resolve. You know, to join a gym and actually go and get healthier, or we go to lose weight to look better, and if we happen to get healthier along the way, that’s the veritable icing on the cake… oh, oops, sorry for mentioning that – you know, that favorite rich red velvet cake with the cream cheese inch thick icing, or that Texas pecan chocolate frosting sheet cake where all you plan on doing is eating one row, until three rows later a fourth of the cake is gone. I’ve heard that can happen to people.
But I digress. So we resolve to get to the gym. We resolve to lose the weight. We resolve to quit stuff that isn’t good for us. We resolve to take more time to relax and smell the roses – of course, we need to know where the roses are to smell them – I hear Loose Park has a garden of them in the spring and summer. We resolve to spend more time with family and friends, but of course that only works out if they’ve resolved to spend more time with us. If not, well… awwwkward. We resolve to get more sleep. We resolve to brighten our attitudes, as long as people start driving with more intelligence on the freeways. We resolve to stop rescuing cats. Mmmm, that may be more of a particular resolution for a particular pastor. We resolve to attend worship more – YES, THAT’S IT! WE RESOLVE TO ATTEND WORSHIP MORE! WAHOOO! I love the brainiac who came up with the idea for people to resolve things to start a New Year!
Maybe my sarcasm is something I should resolve to have less of in 2017, that would probably go with the brightening of the attitude REGARDLESS of how other people drive. I’ll let you know how that goes, most especially when the road construction is completed on the Gateway Project at I-35 north and south; and I-435 east, west, and north; and K-10 east and west; and Renner and Lackman and WHAT?!? It will someday be finished?!? Reeeeally?!? Oops, it’s not even 2017 and I’ve already broken my resolve about the sarcasm. Sigh.
You know, good old John Wesley looked at the start of a New Year differently than the idea of a great resolving to re-solve all the personal weaknesses that have seemingly been un-resolvable previously. He instead spoke of covenant and prayer. Yes, I think perhaps a Covenant Prayer has deeper roots than even the strongest resolvedness. A prayer relies on more than our own strength and self-will – which sorta means we agree not to try and be God. So prayer is our acceptance that there is power greater than ourselves seeking to work for good for and with us. And a Covenant, as opposed to a contract, is not a co-equal agreement. A Covenant is that which God initiates and human beings are response-able to receive and participate… or not.
As people of faith, then, we have this suggested prayer that is entitled: A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition and can be found on page 607 in the United Methodist hymnal:
I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by thee or laid aside for thee,
Exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine, and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven. Amen.
This probably doesn’t have much to do with losing weight, or smelling roses, or not rescuing any more orange cats. But it probably does have to do with how we choose to live our lives on a daily basis. That may have to do with a kind of faith that I believe we are going to especially need as we move through this next year.
Okay, maybe it doesn’t have to be either/or, win/lose, one or the other, mutually exclusive, a zero-sum game. Why yes, I can take an idea that could be described or defined in three words and expand it infinitely in the blink of an eye, thank you for noticing. *snort* I am a preacher, it’s a gift. Maybe we participate and receive intention both in personal resolution and Covenant Prayer. Maybe we accept the limitations of our humanity and resolve stuff in that awareness, and we accept the power beyond ourselves that is God that seeks grace and good things for, with, and beyond us at the same time.
Happy New Year a few days early! Happy resolving to worship more in 2017 and all the other resolving stuff you choose! And may the peace that comes from knowing a God who wants good things for you every year be that which lives in and through you each day! See you OFTEN in 2017! Well, if we recognize each other after all those workouts resolve what age and gravity and happy cake-eating have produced!