Today, I chucked the prepared sermon and went off the cuff at the last minute.
I don’t do it often, but it is increasingly common.
Today we were challenged to by the lesson from the Hebrew scriptures to see that life and death had been laid out before us … and to choose life.
I don’t remember all of what I said/preached, but the basic gist of it was this: it seems to me that most of us look at faith through one of two lenses. We either interpret God, scripture, faith, and life through the lens of judgement or through the lens of love.
Some will say that seeing with lens of judgement is to see a sinful world as God sees it.
I say that this perspective is too much like the way of the world to be the way of God. I can find judgement and “thou shalts” and “you shoulds” at every turn. I do not fundamentally believe we are a disappointment to God.
I wholeheartedly believe that God delights in us, and that out of that delight challenges us to be true to ourselves, compassionate with others and good stewards of our gifts. But above all, delight.
Blogger Ashley Ambirge recently wrote a blog post entitled: “Resolutions Are For Chumps. I Choose Revolution.” The basic theme of that particular essay was that we don’t actually need all the things we think we need.
The wheels in my brain started to move and I began to consider the ways in which we mark the beginning of a new year. Almost always it seems like we’re making resolutions to be better, to whip ourselves into shape based on the expectations that culture or other people set for us.
For example, have you ever heard a variation on these themes before?
– This year I’m going to lose weight.
– This year I’m going to get organized.
– This year I’m going to improve my financial situation.
Now, I’m not suggesting that New Year’s resolutions are a bad thing. But I wonder if they don’t feed our tendency to let the opinions of others overrule our own inner wisdom. Would it be possible to come up with a New Year’s resolution that, rather than imposing an artificially constructed expectation on ourselves from the outside, would help us be more attentive to the longing of our hearts and the wisdom of our souls?
I’m going to suggest a commitment to a daily practice of attentiveness. Whether it’s silence, meditation, prayer, journaling or any number of other disciplines … committing to a practice that helps you listen to yourself (and to the Spirit of God within you) will be healthier, more authentic, and more freeing than any other resolution I know of.
Anyway, it’s just a thought.
Happy New Year, friends!