As the New Year dawns, we find ourselves (again) in the land of fresh beginnings.  This is the time of year when we make New Year’s resolutions, embark on new diet plans, or exercise routines. This is when we get up the gumption to quit our bad habits and try to do better. Yet, as the weeks roll on, we find it much harder to follow through.

They say that resolutions fail for several reasons. Perhaps our goal wasn’t realistic, maybe we don’t have an actionable plan or good time management, or possibly, we just get distracted. But the making of resolutions is good. It signals a willingness in us to transform something we sense needs to change. No, good intentions don’t get us there, and we need stick-to-itiveness and follow through if we are going to see real fruit, but it begins simply with the desire to see something different in ourselves and in our world.

There were a lot of things that happened in 2020 we will be happy to leave behind. Politics and pandemics, school and business closures, anxiety about the economy and our health, have not been good for the soul. I am eager to see some return to normal life. I don’t think I want to hear the word unprecedented again for quite some time! But I also sense things in myself I want to grow into. I want to be in better shape, read more, and deepen my relationship with others and with God. Will I be able to live into everything I want to see in my life in 2021? Probably not, but I’m going to try anyway.

The Psalmist instructs us, “Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous things for me” (Psalm 98:1). Singing a new song means moving beyond the same old song and dance. Singing a new song means another world is possible, another us is possible. But singing a new song is hard work. We must learn the tune and work out the words before we can sing it with any confidence.  We won’t sing out, until we learn how.

The hope for personal life transformation is at the heart of Christian spirituality. New years and new songs remind us that transformation is possible (especially if we trust the One who has done marvelous things for us!). Yes it will require effort, intention and a plan of action, but I am eager to see what the new year brings, what newness I can live into and what new song God’s Spirit will teach me.

What about you? What hopes to do you have for 2021?

Pastor James