GROWING IN GRACE
It’s a new year. We’ve come through the season of Advent. We’ve celebrated the coming of the Christ child in the manger. We’ve thrown away our old calendars and hung new empty ones showcasing a year full of promise. So how are you going to fill that new, empty calendar? Better yet, how are you different in this new year?
I’m not a huge fan of making New Year’s resolutions. I confess that it’s largely due to the fact that I have a hard time keeping the resolutions I make. So I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m not a big fan of enduring a self-defeating process every year.
But I thought I’d give it another shot this year to see what happens. After all, that empty calendar reminds me that there’s always hope for things to be different. I’m going to make a public declaration, too, right here in this column. After all, accountability is a big part of taking on new disciplines. And since we’re all Methodists, I figure it’s in our DNA to watch over one another in mutual love and accountability.
So here it is …
This year I resolve to look for the beauty of God more. And when I find it, I resolve to tell someone about it.
In his book, “The Beauty of the Word,” James Howell writes, “preaching does not depend on the cleverness, intelligence, or preparation of the preacher, but solely on the beauty, in inherent persuasiveness, of the One we proclaim.”
I think our hope to live a faithful life also depends on this beauty. We can do a lot to distract ourselves from making God’s beauty central in our lives. We can convince ourselves that things like politics, stances on issues, the reduction of districts, apportionment dollars, clergy defrocking, membership numbers, wars over worship styles, building programs, committee meetings, and whether or not we agree with others are central to our lives with God and one another when they certainly are not. What is first and foremost in our lives is the beauty of God and how we see it and experience it all around us and in others. Nothing else is more important and everything else follows this.
And when we focus on God’s beauty, a wonderful thing happens – we stop being so negative. A sad fact in our world is that industries are built on keeping people angry. Cable news networks make millions knowing that we watch them, get angry, and stay that way. But they’re simply capitalizing on the fact that we like getting angry and we love it when we can do it with others.
So what if we resolved to look for God’s beauty all around us and in other people more this coming year? What if we resolved to be less negative about everything? What if we griped less? What if we loved and appreciated beauty more? What if instead of arguing or resenting each other, we sought to appreciate the beauty of God in one another (and especially in those we might not always agree with)?
I don’t entirely know what might happen if we tried this resolution but I hope you’ll join me in finding out. Make this your resolution for the coming year. And maybe, just maybe, we can fill our calendars and our lives with really good things.
The Rev. Ben Gosden is an associate pastor at Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.