I wonder if you will be making any New Year’s resolutions.
Many of us have become increasingly cynical about making resolutions. Each passing year demonstrates how fragile resolve can be and how easily it breaks in the light of the new day.
In my twenties, I made laundry lists of resolutions on New Year’s Eve. Some of these resolutions were frivolous, focused on matters such as finding a way to fit into the stovepipe Wrangler jeans than in fashion. The more earnest resolutions I offered to the universe, as I stood waiting for the town hall clock to chime midnight, were that I would try to make a difference in the world, to be more loving with those I loved, and to gain inner peace. I sense most of those gathered offered similar intentions to the starry sky and that this is what gave, and continues to give, each new year celebration around the world its energy and optimism.
Resolutions are prayers. They are expressions of our deepest longings for transformation and peace. While we may become less comfortable voicing these longings, they continue to burn undiminished within our souls.
During the Bishop’s Pageant on Christmas Eve, children offered prayers that gave voice to all our prayers: for belonging and community, for the welfare of those in our care, for joy for the living and peace for those who have died. One of the most moving things was the faith with which I heard these prayers spoken, the confidence that, in the speaking of these petitions, they would be heard. There was no apologetic tone, no equivocation of the kind with which we as adults often offer our weary prayers, our sheepish hopes.
I wonder if a resolution for the new year can be to remember the faith with which we made our resolutions, to allow ourselves to shrug off the protective cloak of cynicism we sometimes wrap around ourselves, and give voice anew to our hopes for peace and transformation.
The Martin Luther King Jr. weekend presents us with an immediate opportunity to renew our engagement in justice. On Sunday, January 15, Grace Cathedral will host an Interfaith Evensong and forum honoring the life and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth are invited to participate in a teach-in and art workshop about the national movement to end slavery for good. Artwork produced will be presented at our 6 pm service and then placed on permanent display at Grace, voicing the hope of many for a more just world through this reform. Spaces are limited, and we invite attendees to RSVP by email as soon as possible.
This Sunday, the first day of the New Year, we will hear the blessing of God to us all:
The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).
God knows and loves our desire for belonging, for grace, for peace. May we all feel this constant love as we enter the New Year and find new strength to bring the light of this love to the world.