New Year’s resolutions, a.k.a. "always reforming"
I am a great fan of New Year’s resolutions. As December turns into
January, I find myself taking them pretty seriously, pondering what one
or two resolutions I might make for the coming year. What is most
important to me is choosing something that I can make into a habit,
thereby improving my way of being in the world in some small way.
For example, one of the best resolutions I made some years back now
was deciding to leave all quarters I receive in change in my car to use
in parking meters. I was embarrassed by the steady stream of parking
tickets I would pay through the course of a year because I didn’t have
what I needed for the meter. When the solution came to me I wondered why
it took me so long to get it.
In this run up to New Year’s I was struck by the correspondence
between New Year’s resolutions and the distinguishing characteristic of
my branch of Christianity, Reformed Protestantism.
Our very name, “Reformed,” derives from the Latin summary of our
approach to the Christian life, “Reforma, semper reformanda,” commonly
translated, “Reformed, always being reformed.”
A friend who is a Latin scholar recently commented to me that our
usual English translation of this phrase actually loses one crucial
grammatical nuance from the Latin: Because it’s an imperative mood, it’s
actually a command, and better translated, “Reformed, must always be
reformed.” No wonder I take so to heart the cultural tradition of New
Year resolutions — it is actually something I must do.
So for this year, what New Year’s resolution could reform us more
toward what God is yearning for us to be (and therefore what we must
I resolve to do what I want my church to do: I will greet all I meet as a beloved child of God.
This is way more complicated than dropping quarters into a cup holder
in my car, resolving to exercise, giving up sweets, or most of the
other common resolutions I know people try or have tried myself in the
past. It is also more important. It will become a habit because it is
God’s will for me. Through this resolution, Christ is reforming me to
reflect His loving kindness.
I cherish the gift my branch of Christian faith brings to the whole
in our reminder that resolutions to reform ourselves are inspired by God
and a necessary spiritual discipline for everyone, individual or group.
And I love the way this understanding has crept into the fabric of our
culture without our particularly knowing it.
We all join the Reformed stream of Christian faith when we make New Year’s resolutions, whether we know it or not.
May God bless all our resolutions this year. Happy New Year!
Originally posted at A Time to Embrace.