I greeted this new day with resolutions on my mind having preached yesterday about the coming Feast of the Epiphany and how we might take some time in these last days of Christmas to get in touch with how we stay in touch with the reality of the incarnation, in us and in the world, resolving once and for all to increase our face-time with Jesus.
How to, resolve. Buzz words of every new year, it seems.
The coming of Epiphany links up nicely with the cultural tradition of turning over a new leaf, making resolutions for better living in the coming year. Well…kinda, sorta, not really.
New Year’s resolutions are of the can-do, mind over matter, will-power type. And epiphanies? An epiphany we commonly think of as aha moments – an insight that changes one’s understanding of something. But epiphanies have a power in themselves to transform, ushering in not only a new way of thinking about something but also a new way of being.
This kind of behavior change is not likely to occur and certainly won’t stick by mind-over-matter thinking.
I love Dan Piraro’s take on resolutions which illustrates – at least to me – through word play on RESOLUTION the futility of living into some will-powered change of behavior and life.
My sentiment, exactly. Will-power and thinking we can think our way to behavior change just does not work. Note this other illustration found on Google images that says the same thing.
Year after year, the same resolutions taken on, amended, with every intention of making it work THIS time, THIS year. Blah, blah, blah.
I’m pretty guilty of this flawed thinking, myself. As recent as yesterday after preaching I had resolved to do XYZ (fill in the blank) this year – literally setting my mind to it, no matter what I told myself as I left church.
How quickly – how easily – I forget to look to God first for such resolutions. For the epiphany – the way forward. To pray forward.
It didn’t take long for the Holy Spirit to reach me, pausing me just where I could hear what I needed to hear about my so-called resolutions. It was in the first reading this morning, at these verses from Psalm 85:
4 Restore us then, O God our Savior; *
let your anger depart from us.
5 Will you be displeased with us for ever? *
will you prolong your anger from age to age?
6 Will you not give us life again, *
that your people may rejoice in you?
There is no life – resolved to do xyz or otherwise – no life if anger resides anywhere in or around. Anger held onto, attached, woven into the fabric of relationships with God, family, friends, colleagues, foes, environments, or circumstances eats away at those relationships with God, family, friends, colleagues, foes, environments or circumstances
Prolonged anger can so easily become a way of being. Of living.
But it is a lie. No one lives – has life – when anger has not departed.
So. God stepped in this morning to revise my list – to get it aligned with His will and way.
I am praying forward for a season – a life – to excommunicate anger from my way of being. I have no idea how to do this on my own – thank God, I am not on my own.
Come, Holy Spirit, come.