Approaching a New Year: Its Never too Late to Make Resolutions on our Life of Faith
Are you someone who makes New Year’s resolutions? Many people use this time of year to revisit their priorities. They set goals for health and lifestyle—losing weight, exercising more, or trying to drink more water or eat more fruits and vegetables. Some New Year’s resolutions focus on life experiences such as planning that long-anticipated trip or ensuring that a family gathering actually takes place this year.
What about making New Year’s resolutions that impact our lives as disciples. Yes, I know, the beginning of the church year is Advent, so perhaps we are a little late. But, Martin Luther taught us the importance of daily renewal of baptism.
In the Small Catechism, in the section on daily prayers, Luther enjoins us:
In the morning, as soon as you get out of bed, you are to make the sign of the holy cross and say: “God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit watch over me. Amen.”
Then, kneeling or standing, say the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer. If you wish, you may in addition recite this little prayer as well:
“I give thanks to you, heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ your dear Son, that you have protected me through the night from all harm and danger. I ask that you would also protect me today from sin and all evil, so that my life and actions may please you. Into your hand I commend myself: my body, my soul, and all that is mine. Let your holy angel be with me, so that the wicked foe may have no power over me. Amen.”
After singing a hymn perhaps (for example, one on the Ten Commandments) or whatever else may serve your devotion, you are to go to your work joyfully.
(Small Catechism of Martin Luther, Evangelical Lutheran Worship, p. 1166*)
It’s never the wrong day to make resolutions about our life of faith. So, what might these resolutions look like?
Consider a resolution around your daily prayer life. We are in the middle of a year of prayer together as the ELCIC. Your resolution might be to commit to a regular life of prayer. It might be to try a new way to pray each month for the rest of this year.
You could make a commitment to pray regularly for your congregation, your pastor, your synod, your synod bishop and for the whole of the ELCIC. Perhaps there are specific ministries you could commit to praying for—a local food bank, a homeless shelter, a church camp or campus ministry, the ministry of Global Mission, or for the youth of our church.
Take the opportunity to look at your charitable giving, including your support of your congregation. What percentage of your income do you use to respond to God’s generosity in your life? Is this something that you could increase?
Perhaps a resolution on giving is a way to enrich your faith life. As Jesus said, For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matthew 6:21).
There are many other possibilities to consider for a discipleship resolution. A commitment to reading the Bible. A commitment to try fasting. A commitment to living a simpler life. A commitment to increasing your worship attendance. The list goes on!
Pray about it before you make a resolution. Don’t take on too much! And if, as with many other resolutions, you find yourself drifting away from your commitment, remember Luther, and start again.
I’m making discipleship resolutions too. I’ll be looking at my charitable donations and trying to regularize reading scripture as part of my personal devotions.
God bless you this year as you continue in your lives as disciples.
National Bishop Susan Johnson
Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada