What if someone else made your New Year’s resolutions?
That was the question our pastor posed to us. It got an embarrassed twitter of laughter. Seems we all have something that needs changing, but we don’t want to admit it. Or maybe we do admit it—but we aren’t willing to put out the effort to deal with it. We laugh, but the question obviously hits home.
Did you make New Year’s resolutions for 2013? If so, you’re certainly in good company. According to a study published in the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of people usually make resolutions and another 17% make them occasionally. They go on to state that “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.” That’s pretty inspiring.
Most resolutions deal with self improvement issues—specifically losing weight, getting more organized, exercising—and finances. I’m not surprised. I usually resolve to lose weight and exercise more too. (I’m making good progress on the exercise vow. The weight problem? Not so much, sigh.)
About ten years ago I added a new resolution that I’m very glad I kept. I boldly promised God and myself that I would read through the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.
There are only a few days of 2012 left. Most of us take the opportunity a new year offers to refocus, perhaps make some changes (you could call them resolutions), and in general start the year with a clean slate.
Our church is doing the same thing. At the beginning of 2013, our pastors are calling for “21 Days of Night & Day Prayer.” During those three weeks, people will be praying round the clock, 24/7. We can sign up for a specific shift at a prayer room, or just show up at any time. Everyone is welcome. And of course, we can pray on our own as well.
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Yes, I’ve heard. And no, I haven’t read the reviews.
I love the week between Christmas and the new year. All the Christmas preparations are over. We have enough leftovers in the fridge that I don’t have to cook unless I feel like it. The garden (and its weeds) is blanketed with snow. Chores are at a minimum. It’s a time to relax and reflect, to take a deep breath, let it out slowly, and clear my head of all to-do lists.
The end of the year is traditionally a time for assessing the year and resolving to better. (Have you ever noticed that we never seem to be satisfied with just maintaining the status quo?)
I’m impressed by those friends who have five, ten, and even twenty-year plans for their lives. I’m not that clairvoyant. But I do like to compare the ending year with the goals I made last January, and then look ahead to what I might accomplish in the coming year.
As I write this Thursday morning, one of our closest friends is being prepped for transplant surgery. After only eight weeks on a waiting list, the call came that somewhere in Colorado a young man had been critically injured in a car accident. He had signed a donor card and was a good match. What had until now been a theoretical, someday possibility suddenly became, “Let’s go, this is real!”
After talking to the transplant coordinator, our friend’s first reaction was to earnestly pray for the donor and his family. After all, we know from firsthand experience that God can bring to life even the dead, and this man was not dead yet. Our friend was more than willing to wait, should God choose to heal him. But an few hours later came another call—there was no brain function and the doctors were taking the man off life support.
It’s New Year’s Eve. I know I should be excited about this (and I am definitely looking forward to a friend’s party tonight), but I’ve always struggled to find meaning in this particular holiday.
It’s not like we’re celebrating a specific event—like the 4th of July or the resurrection. We’re not celebrating a honored person—such as George Washington, or St. Valentine. We’re not even marking an astronomical event. The winter solstice was ten days ago on December 21.
Rather, our celebration is based purely on the calendar being what it is. So, why do we celebrate January 1 as the start of a new year?