Faith Matters

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“Then the LORD answered me and said: Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it. For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay.”                       -Habakkuk 2:2-3         

Who’s up for a new year’s resolution?  This verse from Habakkuk seems to provide some permission.  Personally, I’m not a great fan of proclaiming what I will or won’t do as a new year comes around… besides… in packing up my office earlier this year I’ve misplaced my hammer, chisel, and stone tablets.  My worry.  Not yours.  Sheesh, by my age if I haven’t figured out what’s good for me and you then I most likely haven’t paid much attention to the relationships I hold dear.  RESOLUTION… it’s a pretty cool word and doesn’t hurt to try…

When did new year resolutions begin?  The obvious answer is when people had enough time on their hands to realize life’s limits and imperfections creating a desire to make things better.   History reports the Babylonians were first to make resolutions for the coming year… some 4,000 years ago. Records show they held celebrations in honor of the new year…not begun January 1… but in mid-March… with the planting of the crops.  Details… clarity… resolutions are all about the details… and with them can come a revealing change! 

As for my Jewish and Christian friends, we know there is no one concrete story in the scriptures about new year practices… although, there is plenty for one’s heart and mind to devour about renewal and bettering one’s own personal perspective of self… as Isaiah 43:18-19a bears that idea out…

Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

Most folks are fairly good at claiming a new year resolution or two.  Yet, the data suggests few of us are successful at maintaining them. And if that’s so… why the fuss… why entertain the thought at all when just about everyone we know fails… including ourselves?  George Bernard Shaw offers a clue… “Progress is impossible without change; and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything.

Here’s a 3-point shot attempt to answer… and it’s simply this… most of our new year resolutions are pointed at ourselves… you know… “I’m going to the gym” … or “I’m going to be a better son or daughter” … or “I’m going to try and respect my boss at work even though…” stuff like that… and then… the pure humanity of who we are… rises up and gets in the way and at the first hint of failure we throw our hands up in the air and shout… “Ok… I quit!  C’mon Ash Wednesday and we’ll give it a second chance…” 

And there God is…  Faith matters… as God is always willing to grant us grace to try again… and God’s Holy Spirit keeps showing up to nudge our hearts and minds to act differently and when we do… a new clarity arrives causing us to think differently, too.  So, here’s an old 13th century prayer to help… it’s always fresh…

“Thanks be to you, my Lord Jesus Christ, for all the benefits which you have given me, for all the pains and insults which you have borne for me.  O most merciful Redeemer, Friend and Brother, may I see you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.  Amen.”

                 –  Richard, Bishop of Chichester, 1253

God is.  See.  Love. Follow.  Happy new year!

The Rev.   Dr.   Brian   K.   Gigee   is   a   long-time resident of Pearland, having pastored four churches over the last four decades in Texas and Louisiana.     You can read more following his blogmurmuringsat   Comments   and / or questions can be sent to [email protected].

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