Friday, January 3, 2014

New Year's Day

New Year's Day is a big day for new resolutions and for making fun of the making of new resolutions because we all know something about failing to keep new year's resolutions. For many years, before we rang in the new year, I would drag my family into the living room for a discussion of resolutions and goals for the new year. To the loud chorus of groans, I would explain my goals for our family for the new year. Then, I would ask them for theirs. Even though I had given them fair warning that this little exercise was coming, they looked at me like I was asking for something they had never heard of. Usually, this exercise in goal setting and resolution making was a total waste of time. Like most of the resolutions I made. However, I will not admit it was a total waste of time. There is value in reflection and discussing future hopes and dreams. Maybe, the trick is not calling them goals or resolutions which seem doomed to fail. We don't often hit what we aim for.

I don't do resolutions any more. I don't set any goals. I have learned that the road of life is littered with shattered resolutions and goals. That may sound a bit over dramatic so I have learned that there are more obstacles to keeping goals and resolutions than I can possibly foresee in my new year's goal setting sessions. I have learned to survive and one of those survival skills is to go easy on setting goals for yourself and don't ever do it for others!

The gospel of John, chapter one, is my favorite Biblical chapter for the new year. It is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible for any time. But, especially, for the new year. Jesus doesn't talk much about grace in the gospels. He shows it, he lives it. But, the teaching about grace comes mostly from Paul. Yet, here in John 1, John teaches grace. Scott Hoezee calls verse 16, grace squared, grace cubed, grace raised to the power of 10. John writes that from the fullness of grace in the "Word made flesh", we have received "grace upon grace'. Some translations say blessing upon blessing but the word in the original is grace. Grace is a blessing that never quits. In our lives of failed goals and resolutions we never run out of our need for more grace.

John 1 reminds us that as a new year turns it really is not about what we are going to do to make things right or better with ourselves or others or the world. It is about living in God's grace for us, always has been, always will be.