Monday, December 30, 2013


So one of the unintended but entirely welcome consequences of my sabbatical was the loss of something like fifteen pounds from my waist area. Chalk that up to several factors during my time in Sarajevo. Without a car, I walked its streets every day sightseeing and shopping and doing whatever else. I think my average was 2-3 miles per day. Plus, the city sits below several lovely mountains, making those aforementioned streets quite hilly. Further, I ate less food in Bosnia than I usually do here, and what I did eat was local vegetables and good bread and quality meat. Only once or twice did something processed snacks or potato chips enter my diet. Finally, I added some push-ups and sit-ups to my morning routine. The end result? A much healthier pastor, whose clothes fit noticeably easier.

Today, well, things have…what’s the word…changed. It’s funny how easy the pounds return when life reverts to previous patterns. I kept up some of the exercise when I came back; walked less but ran more. Alas, Minnesota weather has a way of dissuading many a jogger as fall turns to winter, and I’m sitting here now, anticipating Christmas, aware that my weight loss is now lost.

But no matter, I tell myself. I shall not be defeated! I did it before. I’ll do it again. A new day can arrive! To be clearer, I mean a new year has come, and with it, that brilliant tradition of annual resolutions. Mine for 2014 will certainly include a return to last summer’s svelter, smaller me.
I read recently that the Roman god after whom they named January (Janus) was sometimes depicted with two heads. One looking back, into the past. Another peering into the future. It makes sense they’d have made resolutions upon the start of his month, right? To resolve something includes reviewing where you’ve been and what’s occurred. Perhaps something didn’t go as planned, or desired, and that makes you less than fully happy. Yet a resolution implies more than insightful analysis into what was. It also presumes hope that what will be can be different, if you work for it. Without a look back, your resolution is, basically, meaningless. Without a glance ahead, you simply remain stuck. Honesty and hope. Two basic ingredients of good resolutions.

Coincidentally, or not, they’re also two ingredients to good living. The kind of full, faithful, excited life to the fullest for which Jesus was born to us (John 10:10). So this January, we’re going to think as a church together about resolutions, from God’s perspective. After all, as you read scripture, they pop up all over the place. The word we typically use for them is “promises,” but that’s essentially the same thing, right? Peter promised to stand by Jesus at his time of trial. Oops. God promised to be with Moses as he stood up to Pharaoh. Well done. Some resolutions in scripture are weird and tragic; others are the basic building blocks of faith. In whatever form they come, though, they’re important, and we’ll explore that dynamic together.

You know one thing that scripture says and that modern science agrees with about resolutions? It’s that they work best- i.e. you don’t break them!- if they’re made and shared in community. That’s one of the basic reason I attend (and work for) church, and not sit at home being spiritual alone. The accountability you all give me for my resolution to serve God helps me, in fact, serve God. So thanks for that, and for acting as community to my earlier weight loss resolution. Maybe you’ll be bold enough to share yours too…?! There’s still time. Happy New Year!

Grace and Peace,

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