Consider This…Happy New Year
We herald the fact that God is no distant lord, dwelling in isolation above the heavens, but love incarnate, born like us of a mother, in order to be a brother to each of us, to be close to us: the God of closeness. God-with-us, Emmanuel, loves us despite our mistakes, our sins, and the way we treat our world. And God himself has drawn close to us through motherhood. And if the Son of God needed a Mother, how much more so do we! Jesus himself gave Mary to us, from the cross: “Behold your mother! And from that hour, the disciple took her into his home.” (Jn 19:27). He said this to the beloved disciple and to every disciple. Today, January 1st is the Solemnity of Mary’s Motherhood of God and of us all. As it is a mother’s vocation to seek the best for their children, so we ask for Mary’s intercession in this New Year trusting that she will care for us and lead us to the best of blessings held in store for us by God.
We are charged therefore in this New Year to make the most of our opportunities for grace that have been procured for us, and as such we make our New Year’s Resolutions. There are many noble resolutions made at this time of year for the betterment of our lives, including these popular goals: Exercise more; Lose weight; Get organized; Learn a new skill or hobby; Save more money or spend less money; Quit smoking; and Spend more time with family and friends. If we are being holistic (think “holy”), then be sure to include a spiritual resolution as well. Maybe, this year I will: pray more, do some spiritual reading, regularly participate in a Church organization or ministry, take a class or listen to a podcast about my faith, do Christian Service to love Jesus in my neighbor.
While at the outset of the New Year, we clean the slate, look to the future with hope for ourselves, and we begin honestly and earnestly striving for these things, it also has become a sort of running joke in our culture to see how just long our resolutions will last before they break down and settle for our old routines. Indeed, it is not easy to build new habits and make lifestyle adjustments, even if we know they are for our own good! Therefore, I would suggest to 1) be realistic in your expectations; don’t set yourself up for failure, and 2) give your resolutions some legs; put a plan into place that is specific and manageable in the day-to-day; make sure you have the supports and people around you that you need to not only make your goals possible, but to help you through the struggles that inevitably come along; and hold yourself accountable. Nothing changes if nothing changes. Turn your resolutions into reality.
For us, I would like to see our Parish resolve to continue to grow as a place in which disciples of Jesus are made and thrive. Our Parish Council continues to identify ways in which this resolution may bear fruit, and has helped facilitate and coordinate, amongst others the various ways in which we are turning this resolution into reality at St. Mary’s: the creation of the hospitality, funeral and grief outreach ministries; the return of the Christ Renews retreats; streamlined fundraising opportunities; better avenues of communication with the bulletin, Flocknote, website, social media sites, live streaming, robocalls and monthly reports; many safety repairs and campus improvements; coordination of faith sharing activities; and plans are in the works furthermore for better wayfinding, a more welcoming Narthex Space, Technology upgrades in the Church and school, and more. Thank you to the many leaders and parishioners who turn our parish’s resolutions into reality.
Good things are happening here; great things are in store for us still! May God bless us all in this New Year! Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!