As 2021 sputters it’s way to a disappointing end in most categories, I think it’s safe to say that we all hope 2022 turns in some new directions. I’m hoping for some sort of pandemic progress (I’m past wishing for a resolution). I’m hoping that people somehow stop being divisive, silly, and just plain mean. These are beyond my control, of course. There are traditions to observe, however. “Good-luck foods” like pork, black-eyed peas with greens, cornbread, grapes, and pickled herring, should then be on the table New Year’s Eve. Good luck is sure to follow!
If depending on food choices to ensure prosperity and health in 2022 seems a reach, there are always resolutions. Have you resolved that 2022 will, finally, be the time when all the things you have meant to do and didn’t will get done? Will this be the year that ushers in a more svelte, streamlined you? If you have had a host of failed resolutions (like me) in the past, this year you will resolve to have no resolutions and avoid the disappointment and shame.
The trouble with resolutions is that they never produce resolutions. They are a way of identifying changes we want to make, naming the deficiencies in life, and making a self-help plan that then falls short, or fails miserably. That is why we need the good-luck foods too. We swallow with a plea, “Do that voodoo that you do.”
As I think about the menu for New Year’s Eve and ponder resolutions, I think that once again, I can resolve to lose weight, pray more, read more books, stop eating cookies, and being generally nicer to people. I’m old enough to know by now that even these simple things are beyond my power. As people of faith, we are called to live lives anchored in the grace of God, not good luck and self-help.
It seems to me that a new year should not be the time to turn to ourselves for solutions. We know how that goes. Instead, we can simply allow God to be in charge, to have at us with divine love and grace. As the psalmist cries, “Create in me a clean heart o God!” (Psalm 51:10). Call on the Lord for help instead of looking to my own strength.
Colossians 3:17 provides a kind of resolution that opens us up to God’s grace. “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” Here, we appeal not to good luck or self-discipline, but to Christ, the mediator, who can guide every thought and act. That is bound to lead to good things.
Whatever you do to usher in 2022, leave room for Christ to invade your plans with grace and mercy. Be gentle with yourselves as you set goals that may be hard to keep. Finally, feast with those you can and those you love. I’m thinking some pork and a mess of greens, black-eyed peas and cornbread are just about what the doctor ordered. (Don’t tell my wife about the pickled herring).
Tim Olson – Lead Pastor