Thoughts for the Soul

Resolutions

Posted on: Jan 1, 2022

My father’s humor often involved word play. For example, he would come to the kitchen on January 1st, after he finished milking the cows early that morning and announce, “I feel like I haven’t eaten all year!”

Others might get through New Year’s day lunch without eating any Christmas candy, and brag about their perfect record in sticking with their new health diet all year so far. You get the point.

But January 1st is followed inevitably by January 2nd and January 3rd. And all those well-intentioned resolutions? Most get packed away with the Christmas decorations.

The problem with most resolutions is that they are too safe, too sensible and too self-centered. We resolve to make tiny changes in our lifestyles, but refuse to consider restructuring our lives and changing the paradigms by which we live.

The anonymous gospel writer we call Luke tells how the boy Jesus offers us an example of what a real resolution means — what one writer calls the Mother of all Resolutions: Jesus informs his parents that he must be “about my Father’s business.”

Joseph and Mary, their friends and relatives had all made the required pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. But as soon as the allotted time for the holiday was over, they hit the road. Like most of us at the end of an extended time away, they were probably looking forward to getting back home. Besides, Nazareth is some 70 miles north of Jerusalem — a long walk!

The north-bound folks had gone quite a way when they realized Jesus was missing. His parents finally found him hanging out in the temple instead of doing what everyone else expected of him.

What does it mean to be about God’s business, rather than other people’s business, or even other people’s definitions of God’s business?

Jesus discovers at this early age that answering God’s expectations can get you in trouble — even with your own family. In fact, focusing on God’s business may put an unexpected crimp in the family business. “Business-as-usual” may not be the way God does business.

The ultimate New Year’s resolution does not challenge us to cut fat grams, or quit smoking or get to aerobics class twice a week. The ultimate resolution a Christian can make is to live in the light of God’s intentions, not human intentions.

The New Year’s resolution to end all resolutions is to know God’s expectations and make it our business to be a part of God’s business. What might that business be?

An electric transformer takes high voltage and transforms it into energy that we can use in our everyday lives. Without a transformer, there would be no refrigerated food, no air conditioning. There could be no light in the darkness, no safety in the storm.

In the Christmas story, God comes to us and gives us Christ Jesus, whose life transforms the love and power of God into the grace and compassion that the world desperately needs.

What if instead of only resolving to lose 10 pounds this year, we also resolve to eat according to a diet that could sustain the whole world?

What if instead of only resolving to get more exercise this year, we also resolve to exercise some spiritual muscles with study, meditation and prayer?

What if instead of only resolving to spend less time in front of the TV and more time reading some good books, we also resolve to teach those struggling with illiteracy to read those books to you?

Our commitment to the ultimate resolution empowers us to transform the world with God’s love. What can we resolve to do and be on January 2nd and for the days and months — even years — that follow?

—Pastor Fogal

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