Tuesday, January 1, 2008
A New Year, A New Day
I don't happen to be the resolution-making type. But many people, maybe some of you, do engage in the tradition of pronouncements of intent for the coming year. Many people focus upon things which will make them more organized, more healthy, more attractive, more successful, and the like. The concept of resolutions for those who make them, is both a looking back and looking forward at the same time. It is easy to yearn to be more or less of something than in the prior year. It is natural to look forward to the notion that maybe, just maybe, the future holds a brighter day, a new and improved look or outlook- a fresh start.
Whether we make resolutions or not, many of us, myself included can be attracted to the inherent idea that what one has been is not the ideal of who one longs to be. Of course, magazines and newspapers offer catchy self-help lists and ways to make it oh so simple to perfect what seems to be lacking in our lives and fill in the blanks. Whether it is those pesky 10 ( or in my case 25) pounds, or some other woe in need of reformation, ads for handy products tout the ways in which magic things can transform us and our environs- at least the models look satisfied and self-assured.
And maybe, someone will actually keep their resolution for the year, or the first month, or..maybe next year, like Bridget Jones, she will still be nail-biting, smoking, crash-dieting, losing track of papers, in a dead-end job, alone on New Year's Eve. And all of the panaceas which held such promise will have been cast off.
I think taking stock of where we've been and where we are can be wise- the thought that there is a quick fix to transform us is however, pretty unrealistic. It sounds like a hopeless business.
But luckily, you and I do get a chance for a better today and tomorrow and eternity. Not because of the great product which awaits us ( but wait! Act now and we'll also send...), but because of the greatest story ever told. God's saving grace incarnate in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is what allows me and you to begin not just each year anew, but each day anew. In our baptism, as Martin Luther states in the Fourth Article of the Small Catechism, the old in us has been put to death, and a new person comes forth daily to rise up, cleansed and righteous, to live forever in God's presence. This forgiveness of sins, and rebirth are for me and "for you."
Today, as we celebrate the naming of our Lord, we know that the story of Jesus is not just about coming down to earth to check things out, but allowing Himself to be born, cared for, named, cirumcised, and dwelling with us, as one of us, for us.
So while I do not make annual resolutions, I can resolve each and every day to seek God's will and try to be an instrument of this will in all I think, say and do. Luckily, even when I fail to keep this resolution as I should, instead of having to come back to be simply confronted by yet another failure as the final indictment, our loving God assures us that even though we cannot come to know Him as we ought, we have the blessed assurance of life eternal. This is true not for anything I have done, but the fact that God is trustworthy- that is a resolution we can count on!