Monday, January 4, 2010

New Year, New Hopes, New Resolutions

Change is on the minds of a lot of people at this time of year. It's the beginning of January, a new year and a new decade lies ahead. As Christians, time is always filled with hope. I once read the following quote that I never forgot, "Hope is not an option for Christians, it is essential to our faith." A new year offers new beginnings, challenges, resolutions for positive growth and change and hope that all will be well. Abraham Lincoln said, "Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other."
Edith Pierce said this, "We will open the book. Its pages are blank. We are going to put words on them ourselves. The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day."
Those two quotes and others appeared in an online article of words of inspiration for the New Year in The Huffington Post-
I loved the quotes, I love quotes in general and so I got a little inspiration by looking online for others. I like this one too by Oprah Winfrey-"Cheers to a new year and another chance to get it right."
The first Sunday of January of the New Year, was a frigid, windy morning in the Northeast. But it was also Epiphany and a morning to share with children what the feast means. For me, there is no better way to share the meaning of Epiphany than with children. So after the readings for the children, I asked the children sitting in front of me, "Who wants to be Mary, the Mother of God?" I had borrowed a few statues from the Church creche, with permission, of course. The baby Jesus and the Three Kings were in the small chapel where we gathered. And so I needed a child to kneel in front of the crib to act as Mary and a child to "play" Joseph. Two children came forward and I threw a fringed beige shawl that I had, over the little girl who knelt beside the statue of the baby Jesus. She was a perfect little Mary. And Joseph knelt on the other side. The statues of the Three Kings, bearing gifts, were behind them. I had also wrapped up gifts of "gold, frankincense and myrrh," so other children could bring those gifts and place them in front of Jesus. I told the children that the best gift they had given to the baby Jesus that morning, was coming to Church, in spite of the very cold weather. That was a sacrifice, leaving their warm, comfortable beds to get up for Church. And so on Epiphany Sunday, their presence was the best gift of all. Presence-wide-eyed presence and alertness is a great gift to God. 
I always make New Year's resolutions as most people do. Apparently about 40% of people make resolutions each year. According to experts, resolutions are good, because you're more likely to reach a goal, if you make a resolution. My resolutions are usually a combination of goals to improve my health alongside goals and resolutions to grow spiritually. Improving my health means exercising more and eating mindfully. My resolution to grow spiritually is to "keep focused on Jesus" and to "look to the Lord" for everything. That's it. Keep my gaze on Jesus....on where the Lord is leading me, what God's will is for me, praying to stay focused and that is enough. Living with the knowledge and hope that God is with me, guiding me and bringing my plans to fruition. If I keep up with my prayer disciplines, and keep focused on what's important then the year will unfold with many blessings and surprises. Hope is a beautiful thing. 

Epiphany is not only about "seeing" the light of Christ, but also about being changed by it.  (Msgr. Joe DeGrocco)