Happy New Year, folks! It is that time of year when people sit down and start listing out their goals, their hopes, their plans for 2015. For many, statements will be made like, “2015 will be the year I go to the gym,” or “2015 will be the year I pay off my credit card debt.” We all make these sorts of statements, whether consciously or unconsciously. Some take their resolutions very seriously: there are formal lists made, there are goals, there is accountability. Some keep them close to the vest, tucked in their heart knowing what they want to change, what they want to accomplish with the year ahead, and it’s their own personal thing to keep to themselves. No matter how you go about it, each of us takes the time as the calendar turns over to the new year to ponder in our hearts what we want to do with our lives in this new year – this new year that is a clean slate, a chance to start anew.
Resolutions can be a great thing, because they set goals, but they can also just be downright frustrating, because inevitably we will fail at some. We will get busy, we will change course, something will happen that makes them impractical, and then we end up spending the first part of the year kicking ourselves, rather than celebrating what we are accomplishing. I think part of the problem with this is that we see resolutions as simply something to check off of a list, something to be moved on from, rather than seeing them as a significant change in our lifestyle. Saying you’re going to go to the gym is about more than just packing a bag and going, it’s about saying you’re committing to being healthier, to making conscious decisions about your way of life, and how you spend your time. Saying you’ll pay off your debt is saying you’re committing to making different decisions with your finances, maybe sacrificing to make it happen. It’s not a resolution; it’s a lifestyle change – which brings me to my question for all of us as we enter into 2015 as a church community. What lifestyle changes do we need to make as a church?
It is a new year, a chance to rethink, reinvent, reimagine, and I challenge us as a community to think about what we want to do differently this year. Who do we want to be when December 2015 rolls around? Who do we want to become as a community this year? What lifestyle changes can we make that will make us a church more equipped to live out the gospel, to serve God’s people, and to love each other more fully and more intentionally? My prayer for us as we enter into this year together is that this is a year of many things: a year where we spent some intentional time as adults talking about our faith, in real, honest, and relevant ways, that we commit to our youth more, commit to making sure that their experience in Detroit in July is life-changing, that we commit to thinking more about how we can serve our community. I know we do so much already, but there’s always room for growth, that we spend more time together in deep, meaningful worship, that we expand how we think about worship and how it is that we join together to praise God. There is so much that we can do together, there are so many ways that we can grow together as a community, as a fellowship of faith, and I hope that you will share your ideas with each other, with me, with God. Help us to discover a Grace Lutheran lifestyle this year. Help us to grow this year, to learn this year, to become more committed to being God’s hands in the world. We may fall down, we may fail at times, but we will also soar, we will succeed, and we will glorify God in all of our attempts. I pray that this is a year of health, excitement, and blessings for all of us. I pray that with whatever lifestyle changes you are seeking to make this year, you may have determination, strength, and courage. I pray that whatever lifestyle changes we decide to embark upon as a church may bring us closer to each other and to God. I pray that for each and every one of us it may be a blessed, peaceful, happy, new year.
Peace it Together,