New Year’s Resolutions

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(We welcome Mr. John Endress, lay preacher, who shares the following reflection for 2021.)

As of today, January 7th, resolutions made seven days ago are either lost in the whirlwind of everyday life, or have become a ball and chain which gets in the way of other priorities.  Take heart my friend, you are not alone, and there is a way forward.

I have resolved to do many things.  In order to succeed at keeping a resolution, I tell at least three people.  The first person I tell is myself. I have to believe the  resolution is good, specific, and an attainable goal by specific date.  So, if you’re with me on this, go ahead and place your goal on your calendar, and start planning for success.

The moment you write your goal down is the moment of greatest doubt.  You have convinced yourself that the resolution is an achievable goal, but at this moment of doubt, you need support from a second person. In John 16:23-24, “… if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.  Until now you have not asked anything in my name.  Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

It’s surprising how often the answer to our problems is handed to us in daily scripture reading, but there it is again.  Ask the Lord to assist you with your resolution.  If necessary, ask twice a day, but continue to ask.  While asking, don’t just think about it, move your lips, say it out loud, write it down if you have to, but keep asking.  Ask and you will receive.

If you want to learn a new foreign language, or your native language better, ask the Lord for help each day in your language of choice.  If you want to quit smoking, every time you want to reach for a smoke, put your hands together and pray.  But whatever your resolution, you will need the help of one more person.

And it’s at this time I point out the difference between being spiritual and being religious.  Spiritual is something you can do solo.  Being spiritual is fine for maintaining the status quo. But to really make a difference, to make change, you join together with at least one, but preferably more than one, other person who is making the same journey that you are.  Being religious implies that you will meet your resolution together.  Perhaps you have heard the phrase, “Many hands make for light work.”  Well, your resolution is lighter work if you are resolving to do it together with your friends.

Christ Church is more than a pretty building, it is your community, and we are your friends.  If you have a resolution, you have a much better chance at succeeding by contacting one or more of your church friends.  So, mark your calendar, ask the Lord for help, and share the journey to success with a friend.

[This is reflection is grounded in John 16:23-30. NRSV translation is below.]

23On that day you will ask nothing of me.* Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you.* 24Until now you have not asked for anything in my name. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.

25 ‘I have said these things to you in figures of speech. The hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figures, but will tell you plainly of the Father. 26On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; 27for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God.* 28I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and am going to the Father.’

29 His disciples said, ‘Yes, now you are speaking plainly, not in any figure of speech! 30Now we know that you know all things, and do not need to have anyone question you; by this we believe that you came from God.’