Reflection for the Month
From The Rectory . .
The Christmas celebrations are over, some may be waiting for the conclusion of the twelve days of Christmas to complete the celebration by putting away all the decorations, but many will now have turned their attention to making New Year resolutions. According to a ComRes poll taken last year, the five most common resolutions are: to exercise more; to lose weight; to eat more healthily; to take a more active approach to health and to learn a new skill or hobby. Perhaps it’s the over indulgence of Christmas festivities which gives emphasis to exercise, losing weight and living a more healthy life, but when I read that list and my heart sank. It all seems to be about improving our own lives rather than improving the world.
The Christian tradition has no problem with New Year resolutions. In fact you could say that the Christian tradition has a healthy place for resolutions made not just at New Year, but during every week of the year. Pretty much the first thing we do at each church service is to say sorry for the bad things we’ve done during the past days and to ask for help to start doing better. It’s called confession, repentance and forgiveness. Confession means being honest about the mistakes we’ve made ‘through ignorance, through weakness, through our own deliberate fault’. Repentance means wanting to turn away from those mistakes. And forgiveness is given by God, enabling us to make a new start. That doesn’t mean that we’ll become instantly perfect, we are all works in progress, we will all get things wrong. But the glorious aspect to this repentance business is that there is always the opportunity to say sorry, try to do better, and be forgiven, time and time again.
Which brings me back to New Year resolutions. Christian forgiveness is much more than a change in life style to include more exercise, healthy eating and new hobbies. It’s about living really well, and that includes taking a full part in our local communities; giving glory to God for all the good things that God has given us; thankfulness and gratitude for the good things in life; and simple acts of charity, the giving of time, talents and material goods to enrich the lives of others.
So, if you’ve yet to make a New Year resolution, or if you’d like to revise your list, can I encourage you to think more widely, dream bigger, and aim higher.