Pause for Thought January 2018

Isn’t it interesting that it’s always the same at the start of January?  We’ve had the carol-singing and excitement of celebrating the birth of Jesus at Christmas; presents have been opened and family members visited; at least some of us have managed to stay awake and welcome in the New Year; and decorations are being taken down after the holiday season.  And then there’s the issue of those New Year Resolutions! 

Sadly the resolutions tend always to be the same too: eat more healthily, lose some weight, exercise regularly, improve the finances, watch less TV, read more books, sort out the garden and get the tax return done on time etc.  But the sad truth is that few of them get honoured for long.

Apparently only 8 percent of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions for any length of time; or as the joke goes, “a New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other!”.
But it’s not as if people haven’t been trying to keep New Year Resolutions for ages.  Three thousand years ago, the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts (that’s a good resolution to remember!).  

Then a thousand years later, the Romans were at it too: they began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  In more recent times here in England, medieval knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.   But I am not sure that any of them had a better record than us at managing to keep to their resolutions!

So, for many of us, the question is how can we strengthen ourselves to do better with our personal challenges and annual resolutions.  But for those of us who are Christians, the perspective is quite different.  We too are called to reflect and look at our desires, motives and actions; but we know that we are, and always will be, weak in ourselves and far from perfect, and that our real strength can only come from faith in God.  Fortunately He is patient and kind, not wanting to condemn us, but rather encourage and transform us.

We may still have those excess pounds of weight to shed, those books piled up waiting to be read, the garden to be cleared and the accounts to be reconciled.  But we know that what really matters in our lives is our journey of faith.  That’s a tremendous encouragement for me as we start off the New Year.

“Pause for Thought” this month comes from Mike Mills
Reader in the Benefice of Barnack with Ufford, Bainton, Helpston & Wittering
Telephone: 01780 740285