Isn’t that the best part of a new year? There is hope in a fresh start. Hope in a new calendar of opportunity. Hope in the coming of new days ahead.
Among the challenges of our present time are the dire predictions of impending doom. To be sure, ours is a conflicted age. There are real problems out there. Problems that demand prayerfully guided, well-conceived, and appropriately thoughtful approaches. There is no 30 minute fix. But dire predictions about the end of the nation, the end of the church, the end of the family, or the end of…well any dire predictions as though the future were already determined seem to serve little but the fear that inspired the prediction in the first place. Fear left unchecked by faith, hope, and love only creates more fear. We can become wiser through service; wiser through knowledge; wiser by faith; or wiser by trust. I doubt we ever become wiser through rampant fear.
Yesterday was December 28. My birthday. I’ll not write about my age again or speak of it very often. But I wonder as I look at the calendar: what kind of resolution(s) should I have for the next half of my life? What should I do differently? What should I seek from God through prayer?
The truth is I don’t know what the future will hold. What I believe is that the future belongs to God. And maybe this is the most faithful resolution that I, or we, can make: that we will live into the future as we are called by God. Trusting in God, I resolve to pray that this year to come will be a year of joy and blessings, even in the midst of all that is conflicted and which defies simple resolution. I resolve to trust the angels and our Savior who say consistently throughout the New Testament: “be not afraid.” My resolution is to invest even more of energy and effort into loving God and neighbor. It is the 1st Letter of John which teaches that “perfect love casts out fear.” And in this way, living beyond my fears, trusting an uncertain future to God, I may begin to acquire the wisdom which I lack.
Brothers and sisters: if we have no confidence in the God who shall rule the days to come, then our efforts today might be null and void because we make our poorest decisions when we are afraid. My prayer is that 2012 will be a year of growth and renewal for you, for our church, and for our community. And may our resolution be to take the faith of this Christmas season into the year to come and beyond.