I’m sure you’ve noticed that each year almost all the major news magazines put out an issue with special sections recalling people and events that made news during last year.
Many magazines also include predictions of what may happen in the year ahead. Some even go so far as to make predictions covering 10, 20, or more years in the future. In the past, a few of these predictions have proven amazingly accurate, while others couldn’t have been more wrong.
Here we are, in the new year of 2014. I wonder how we’ll do this year? Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? In 360 days, when this year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?
We’ve all experienced regrets over the past. It takes many forms:
- Regret over marriage. Imagining how much happier your life would have been if you had married someone other than person sitting next to you. Or if you’d never married that person you’re divorced from.
Regret over divorce. Regret over broken relationships of all kinds.
Regret over mistakes you made raising your kids.
Regret over bad career moves, missed business opportunities, poor vocational choices.
In general, regret over all kinds of sins and their consequences.
It’s good to be able to start over fresh with each new year. Most of us are recovering from the activities of the Christmas season and are well into the activities of the new year.
What do you anticipate for this year? Are you full of enthusiasm, looking forward eagerly to what each day will bring?
Or are you filled with a sense of dread, worried that this year will be worse than last year was for you?
Almost everyone makes New Year’s resolutions – fully intending to keep them throughout the year. Most of these resolutions are good ones, but difficult to accomplish and some are just pipe dreams. So at the end of this year, we look back at the resolutions and realize we may not have even accomplished ONE of them.
Why do we set such lofty goals for ourselves that we have trouble keeping them? It is human nature to suppose that we will be righteous and not affected by temptations and every day events.
But we are not perfect. . .
Why do we make resolutions that cover the entire year?
I am suggesting some New Year’s Resolutions that we can actually keep.
Resolutions that we can remember each and every day of the year. . . things we can think about each morning. These we can remember – they are not lofty or make major changes to the world. . .
These are resolutions that apply only to each of us.
I would like to suggest that we make the following resolutions for 2014, but only for today and every day of the year. These we can accomplish.
1. TODAY I Will Not Strike Back:
- If someone is rude,
if someone is impatient,
if someone is unkind….
I will not respond in the same manner.
2. TODAY I Will Ask God To Bless My “Enemy”:
- If I come across someone who treats me harshly or unfairly, I will quietly ask GOD to bless that individual. No matter who what “enemy” is: a family member, neighbor, coworker, or stranger.
3. TODAY I Will Be Careful What I Say:
- I will carefully choose and guard my words being certain that I do not spread gossip.
4. TODAY I Will Go The Extra Mile:
- I will find ways to help share the burden of another person.
5. TODAY I Will Forgive:
- I will forgive any hurts or injuries that happen to me.
6. TODAY I Will Do Something Nice For Someone, But I Will Do It Secretly:
- I will reach out anonymously and bless the life of another. I will practice ‘random acts of kindness’.
7. TODAY I Will Treat Others The Way I Wish To Be Treated:
- I will practice the Golden Rule (do unto others as you would have them do unto you) with everyone I encounter.
8. TODAY I Will Raise the Spirits of Someone Who Is Discouraged:
- My smile, my words, my expression of support, can make the difference to someone who is just trying to make it through the day.
9. TODAY I Will Nurture My Body:
- I will eat as many healthy foods as possible;
I will exercise.
I will thank God for my body, that I can still get around.
10. TODAY I Will Grow Spiritually:
- I will read something spiritual or inspirational today; I will find a quiet place (at some point during this day) and listen to God’s voice!
11. TODAY I Will Pray One More ‘Thank You’ Prayer
- Meister Eckhart once said: “If the only prayer you ever say is thank you, it will be enough.”
Say ‘thank you’ to people who are not expecting it: someone on the street, the server of a meal, someone you are walking with.
Say ‘thank you’ to God for another day.
And if we keep these resolutions each day, we may find that our lives are a little bit better and we have done something we set out to do.
Let us pray:
Lord, thank you for this new year. Help us turn to You, grateful for every breath. Empower us to overcome any obstacles, realizing You allow trials in our life to mold us into the image of Your Son. Remind us that You will never leave or forsake us. Teach us to find rest for our troubled heart. Let us be not only a hearer of Your Word, but also a doer, practicing Your teachings: loving You and our neighbor. Lord, this New Year let us walk in humility, serving You, loving You, giving You glory and honor every day.
Delivered at In The Garden, Trinity Episcopal Church on Capitol Square, Columbus, OH 5 January 2014