One of the things that happens to many of us when the calendar turns is that it takes a while to get in the swing of things and quit saying/writing/typing the number for the last year (2016) and state correctly which year we are in (2017). Check writing used to be the worst in respect to this dynamic. Now with digitized everything, and computers making the switch for us, it doesn’t happen as often. But I guarantee you there are more scratch outs on forms, at doctor’s offices and elsewhere, the first week of January than any other week. After you’ve been used to saying a certain year for 350+ days, it’s just hard to make the switch.
This challenge reminds us that change itself is hard. We get used to a certain way of thinking, of doing things, and whether we like it all that much or not, it is at least familiar and comfortable. Thus, we resist the new, the novel, the creative, even if it’s the very thing we need. That being said, to be fair, most new ideas and concepts don’t tend to arrive all shiny and bright, either. They are new, after all. There are rough edges that must be smoothed out, modifications that must be made. So leaving the familiar and polished for something new and unfinished…well, that’s doubly hard.
And when it comes to faith, tradition and familiarity are not all bad. Not at all. I like tradition. I find it rich with meaning. Ours is an eternal God with an eternal Love. Some things really do not change. And yet, one of those unchanging things is the fact that our God is ever on the move, ever adjusting, ever changing, ever seeking to do a new thing. Thus the question for a disciple is never “Is God doing a new thing?” But “Where is God doing a new thing? And how can I get involved?”
So as we consider this for 2017, let’s ask ourselves some questions: What is God up to? Where and how is God calling us to become involved? We have a new president and a new political climate. What challenges/opportunities for ministry/justice will that bring our way? How will we respond? Memphis has its challenges. Our church has its challenges. How can I be a part of how God is meeting those challenges? What will it take for me to become more involved/engaged in what God is up to than I was last year? Are there pieces of my past to which I am hanging on that keep me from embracing what God is doing now? Most importantly, to what do I need to commit myself, right now, so that this time next year I look back and say…that was a year well spent.
Faithful people dare to ask and face such questions, because we believe that God is not only in our past and present, but in our future, too, out ahead of us, doing a new thing, beckoning us to join in. Let us now, as always, be open and attentive to the God who has come in Christ, and the new ways of thinking, being, acting, giving, serving to which God is calling us…now…in 2017.
Happy New Year, David