A Disciple’s Resolution - A Pastoral Note from Jenny

Dear friends,

“Kindness, kindness, kindness. I want to make a New year’s prayer, not a resolution. I’m praying for courage.”

Susan Sontag

A new year brings a sense of a fresh start. A promise of newness and possibility. Perhaps that’s the reason around the common practice of setting ‘New Year Resolutions.’ This year I’m going to… take better care of my health… read more books… make better choices for the sake of the world and climate change… etc. January 1st brings the opportunity for beginning again, and somehow it seems that the expectation is that things will be different in this new year. Better somehow.

Here we are, not even three weeks into the year, and the pandemic rages around us still, tragedies unfold as volcanoes erupt and communities are devastated and scattered, asylum seekers still remain closed in detention, the homeless still sleep rough, the poor continually get poorer, and the list goes on and on. So, it would seem, not much has changed as the calendar ticked over into 2022. And, oh my! it is so easy to get frustrated and discouraged.

This certainly isn’t the tone I would have anticipated for writing at the start of a year. I would have expected to be filled with hope and eagerness, a word of encouragement and “you’ve got this — we’ve got this together!” I imagined that I’d mention things like “this year stretches before us like a blank book. What will you write on its pages?” Yet I find my heart is still heavy, there is no easing of all the things that weigh me down: mentally, spiritually, emotionally.

And yet… it is a new year. And it does stretch before us. God’s promise through Lamentations is that love and mercy will never cease, “they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” (3:22-23). Of course, the issues remain, and we will not resolve them. Yet we each have our part to play that will make a difference. As followers of Jesus, we have a responsibility to care, to love, to walk alongside, to teach — to actually make a difference in the world and the lives of others. And so, we choose to be responsible in the pandemic by following health advice, by wearing masks (even when they might be uncomfortable) to protect the ones who are vulnerable, and, if it is safe for us to do so, we get vaccinated. We send support and uphold in prayer those affected by the recent volcano eruption and tsunamis. We continue to advocate for those still detained after they fled for their lives. We still do what we can to care for the homeless and poor ones.

I gave up making ‘New Year Resolutions’ a long time ago, yet I think I might make an exception this year. Although perhaps I might call it a “Disciple’s Resolution” instead. This year, and each year, I resolve to put aside my despair and feelings of hopelessness just because I cannot change an entire situation. Instead, I will focus on the little bit that I can do that will make a difference in the life of another. I cannot change the whole world, and I am under no illusions that God expects me to. However, I can make a difference and change the world for some, and that is definitely what God calls me to do.

My New Year’s Prayer for you and for myself is this: May this year bring us the hope of God, the peace of Christ, and courage through the Holy Spirit so that each of us will make the difference in the world and the lives of others that is our responsibility. May our despair and hopelessness be transformed through our faithful action to joy and grace.

The world is a better place because God has put us here.

Blessings and Peace,