The New Year: Resolutions and Transitions

It’s natural to think about transitions as the date on our calendars changes from one year to another. While there’s no actual change at the turn of the calendar in how the world functions, it’s a symbolic moment to reflect and to vow to try anew.

There is a biblical term for this: “repentance.” Despite the bad connotation this word usually gets, what it really means is to turn toward God. There is no sense of punishment in the Gospels’ urge toward repentance. It’s not “repent or go to hell.” It’s more of a “repent and find your way out of hell,” or at least “toward the kin-dom of God.”

In Matthew, John the Baptist begins his ministry by proclaiming, “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” Rather than bringing fear, this is a harbinger of great news! The kingdom (or kin-dom) of heaven is not something we reach after death, but something that is near NOW. And we can turn toward it!

Obviously, I’ve been thinking a lot about new and old and turning toward God as I prepare to leave this beloved community and to greet a new one. While my time in Berea was full of love and wonderful things, the way my family is split across cities was near to hellish. Reeling in exhaustion of new parenting and commuting, we did not have the energy to revel in the glory of God’s kin-dom. We were merely surviving, which was not good for us or for the church. And so we are “repenting,” finding a new way to turn toward God.

This necessarily comes with grief. Any habit or way of life is incredibly hard to change because there is some way it has served us. For me, staying at Union served deep loves of this unique and artistic community, an amazing staff of colleagues, feelings of being useful in the work of justice, compassion, and joy. Some of these I will have to leave behind so that I can pursue new life, and there is great grief in that. It’s important to be real about that, to give myself time to grieve and bless the gifts of where I have been (which includes all of you!).

If you’re inclined to make a resolution this year, I’d encourage you to think about what it might mean to repent toward God’s call for wholeness for you.

Categories Consider | Tags: | Posted on January 3, 2018

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