Like many of you, I enjoy several traditions which happen this time of year:
I love receiving Christmas cards, particularly when they include pictures and updates on people I know and love and unfortunately don’t get to see as often as I’d like.
This time of year I like to walk Max right around dusk as the evening gets more and more dark and the Christmas lights are more and more pronounced.
I like to see other family’s nativity sets. I have several very different creche’s. My favorite nativity set includes a German shepherd dog which folk art carver, Joy Hall, included in my nativity set.
This time of year I love a full mug of delicious hot chocolate particularly with a fistFULL of those mini-marshmallows floating in it. Right?! But SHHHHHH don’t tell my cardiologist.
I love snow and sure wish we had more of it – especially around these holidays; but in February and March will do!
I love reading the Year In Review by humor columnist Dave Barry.
I love reading what’s In and Out on New Year’s morning in The Washington Post.
And I enjoy hearing New Year’s Resolutions people set for themselves.
So many great traditions.
Some people take their New Year’s resolutions very seriously. One friend takes her annual New Year’s resolution so seriously, she blames it all on Henry David Thoreau.
So obsessed with Thoreau that as a young sophomore in college she convinced her parents to take her on a pilgrimage to Walden Pond in Massachusetts, where she vowed never to live anywhere without keeping his famous quotation in a place of honor. Every year, about this time every year, she goes into her office, stands before her cork board, and reads Thoreau’s most celebrated words:
“I went into the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
Then she asks herself, “am I living deliberately?”
Living deliberately doesn’t necessarily mean living alone in a cabin in the woods. (A little known fact: Thoreau’s cabin was within walking distance of his family home, and it’s rumored his mom did most of his laundry!)
Living deliberately means
living on purpose,
living with intention,
It means refusing to simply accept things as they are or bow to convention.
It means asking hard questions of ourselves and our culture, resolving to intentionally do away with those things that are not life-giving, important, and meaningful. It means actually choosing to live rather than just letting life happen.
Another friend told me his New Year’s Resolution includes:
Staying more connected to his church.
Remaining open to what God is calling him to do in his life.
Slowing down, taking time to rest.
There’s something about the intention of all of this, right? Naming these resolutions. Taking the time to focus in on what we want this year to look like. I think the intention matters in conjunction with each of us asking God – “Hey, God, what would You like for this year to look like for me?
What should I focus on?”
I think this is the key. What parts of our life do we think God would like to see us spend some time focusing on or working on?
This year I want live deliberately by focusing in again on my faith, my health and trying to live a better work / life balance.
I wonder of Mary & Joseph ever talked about what they thought God wanted them to do in terms of raising God’s Son. I suspect they checked in often. And as we heard from today’s Gospel, even the best picked parents with the best made plans in the world, sometimes loose their twelve year old Son. It happens!
Imagine the pleasure it brings to God knowing at the beginning of the year we ask God for God’s insight and blessing into our year ahead. 365 days to live and learn and become more and more the people God is calling us to become.
Why don’t we take a minute or two to do just this right now. To pause. Pray. And ask God to show us what our resolution should be for the year ahead. To shed light on our path ahead.
[Grab your cell phone and send yourself a text with what you think God wants you to be working on this year.]
What if after spending some time asking God to guide our path – our resolution included: outreach, justice, advocacy, love in action?
What if after spending some time asking God to guide our path – our resolution didn’t included: outreach, justice, advocacy, love in action?
Hmmmmm, now that’s something to think about.
Happy New Year everyone.
The Rev. Joani Peacock, Editor for Emmanuel Voices: A Parish Blog