New Beginnings . . .

mummers-parade-philadephiaWell, here we are again, at the beginning of a new year! Folks are planning New Year’s Eve celebrations, buying the pork & sauerkraut or black-eyed peas and collard greens for ‘lucky’ New Years dinners.  Guys are setting up marathon college football bowl parties with dozens of their closest friends, and in some cities, like Philadelphia PA, hundreds of grown men and women are putting the finishing touches on mammoth sequins & feather costumes for the city’s annual Mummer’s Day parade! New Years weekend is a big party time in most of the US.

After the Bacchanal will come the inevitable guilt, regret, indigestion, hangover, repentance, and  a slew of well-meaning but short-lived  New Year’s resolutions.

This year a new psychological study, on the benefits of having a solid religious practice, has added another, more ‘spiritual’ dimension to the concept of “resolutions.” That’s right, according to this study, believers are healthier, happier and better at controlling their dark side!

I guess the operative word there is “better,” not ‘perfect.’  I know a few believers who pretend they don’t even have a dark side! I’ve never been able to do that myself–even if I could delude myself, my world is full of folks who are eager to “tell me the truth in love.” ; )

Happily, all of us have a God who patiently accommodates our weaknesses, faithlessness, delusions, indifference, and half-hearted resolutions, waiting for us to finally take His love and grace seriously!

The LORD is compassionate and gracious,  slow to anger, abounding in love. He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; he does not treat us as our sins deserve  or repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth,  so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him; for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:8-14)

This year our country and our world will face monumental challenges that will tax our budgets, our will to endure, and in some circumstances, even our lives. Let’s resolve together, with His grace, to hang in there, no matter what curves life throws at us! Agreed?

[Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers and sisters throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.  And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.  (1 Peter 5:7-10)

Amen!

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