January 12, 2016

Resolves and Resolutions

Two weeks into the new year, and many resolutions already have gone the way of the dodo bird. Failed resolutions aren’t for a lack of try; change is really, really hard to execute.

That’s why I like the words of Michael Ramsey, who was the Archbishop of Canterbury in the 1960s and early 1970s. His keen insight is particularly helpful this week, as the primates of the Anglican Communion are gathered with the current Archbishop of Canterbury, struggling to figure out their own resolve about the bonds of unity in the wider church.

  1. Thank God. Often and always. Thank him carefully and wonderingly for your continuing privileges and for every experience of his goodness. Thankfulness is a soil in which pride does not easily grow.
  2. Take care about confession of your sins. As time passes the habit of being critical about people and things grows more than each of us realize. …[Ramsey suggests the practice of sacramental confession].
  3. Be ready to accept humiliations. They can hurt terribly but they can help to keep you humble. [Whether trivial or big, accept them he says.] All these can be so many chances to be a little nearer to our Lord. There is nothing to fear, if you are near to the Lord and in his hands.
  4. Do not worry about status. There is only one status that Our Lord bids us be concerned with, and that is our proximity to him. “If a man serve me, let him follow me, and where I am there also shall my servant be” (John 12:26). That is our status; to be near our Lord wherever he may ask us to go with him.
  5. Use your sense of humour. Laugh at things, laugh at the absurdities of life, laugh at yourself.

On the first Sunday of the new year, my priest used these five helps as the foundation of his sermon. Dozens of people requested a copy—a signal to me that the advice was resonating with folks both personally and corporately.

Read these five helps and think about how you might commit to them in your own life. And then think about how they might apply to your community of faith. Perhaps your vestry might adopt these five “helps” as a spiritual compass for 2016. Maybe you will too.

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