How do you approach a new year? I wonder what motto, saying or phrase you try to bear in mind? Here is a selection, but I am sure there are others you can think of:
Turn over a New Leaf – Make a Fresh Start – Decide on a News Years Resolution – Out with the Old and in with the New – Make a New Year Wish – It’s time for a Spring Clean – Don’t look back just look forwards – Focus on the Best not just the Good – Prioritise the Important over the Urgent….these last two are the phrases that I often think of!
The New Year can be a great time to start again bearing in mind a phrase as we seek to learn from the good and the bad of the last year, and as we aim and plan to go in the best direction that we can in the next. However, whatever phrase we use, the biggest question is not so often about what we want to do differently in the year ahead, but how can we achieve change for the better!
What does Christianity have to offer that is of help? Well the whole of Christianity is about personal transformation and all year round not just in the New Year. And how does this work? Quite simply it comes through starting and continuing to follow the person of Jesus: his character, his actions, his lifestyle, his actions and his teaching.
The first Christians were not called Christians, but ‘followers of the way’, people who knew that following Jesus was life changing and transforming. The first and main teaching of Jesus is ‘Come follow me’ (Matthew 4v19 and Mark 1v17) and this is his call to everyone who wants to change and live the best life that they were created to live. A Christian is someone who believes that Jesus is the bigger and more powerful ‘yes’ than can help us say ‘no’ to what holds us back! As you follow what his life is all about in the bible, and ask for his help in prayer, you can and will start to live a very different kind of life.
So, I have to ask this question: if you were to achieve all that you aimed at for 2022, would you look back and say it was successful…perhaps such that you needn’t make a resolution for 2023?! Yes, it is great at work when we get that dream job or a pay rise; it is very good when all our relationships are going well; and it is satisfying when we achieve our personal goals in all of our activities, but the truth is that most years most of these things don’t happen, and so we will always feel we have failed if we are not careful.
In summary, what I am getting around to saying is this: that it is not bad to set goals for a year ahead, but they are not always the most important goals or those that God wants most for us, but rather whether we are really following Jesus who is the one who can help us change. We become more of ourselves when we follow the way of life of the person who made us, and it is only in following him that we can truly move forwards and to find real satisfaction in life.
With my prayers for January and 2022
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary Upham
4th January 2022