I've already posted a New Year's message here about the "real" new year for us as believers. So today's post is not about resolutions. It's just some ponderings on this unique day of 1/1/11... Looking at all those ones earlier today, I thought a bit about priorities: What are my #1's going to be in 2011?
I didn't want to take on too much and guarantee failure; but I also didn't want to give myself an easy out. Since I have been s-l-o-w-l-y memorizing a prayer I found here, I thought I'd look to that for discernment as to what my 2011 priorities could be. I didn't have to look far. The sentences of the last two days of memorizing have been particularly moving:
Penetrate and possess our whole being so utterly that our lives may only be a radiance of yours. Shine through us, and be so in us, that every soul we come in contact with may feel your presence in our soul.I would love to be "the radiance of Christ" in all that I do. The more I thought about that, two words came to mind, which in turn reminded me of the classic 3 R's of green living -- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -- so I have added my new 2011 words to the mix. I won't review the obvious value of the green 3 R's (which also have spiritual implications), but will express why I've added the other two. Here goes...
REPENT. In the opening of the January readings in Common Prayer, there are some stirring words about economy, wealth and God's kingdom. The writers talk about God's plan for Jubilee, where God had a systemic plan for dismantling inequality and making sure everyone had enough to live on:
There is the promise throughout Scripture that God has created an economy in which there is enough, that God has not created a world of scarcity with too many people or too little stuff. As Gandhi said, "There is enough for everyone's need but not enough for everyone's greed." (p. 88)
I have lived comfortably my entire life. I have always had a roof over my head, a warm bed, a full stomach and money in my wallet. Jesus' gospel message was simple, “The kingdom of God has come near. Repent and believe the good news!” While I have always taken that to mean that I am to repent of my sins, both obvious and hidden, I have to dig a little deeper and admit that my sins extend not only to actions committed, but actions omitted as well.
So when I have not shared of my wealth (for I am indeed wealthy in comparison to the majority of the world), I have neglected the poor. For this, I want to repent.
What does that look like? As I pay my bills, I don't allow myself to question whether I can afford to give money away. Long-term, I do not want to increase my standard of living; I want to increase my standard of giving.
When I do occasionally buy something new -- a jacket, a pair of shoes, a book, for example -- I try to give one away at the same time. I don't need more stuff.
When I see those asking for food, I don't want to judge or evaluate whether they deserve it. Instead, I will repent of my hard-heartedness, and offer blessing in return.
REFUSE. I think it's a challenge to live a simple lifestyle in an affluent town, which is true for much of the US as well. I am surrounded by SUV's and Pottery Barn decor, the latest outfits and college education readily available. I don't want to be slovenly; but I also don't need the latest this or that. To refuse is to keep it simple. Just because everyone else is buying the latest gizmo or getting a bigger house or replacing an older car that works fine with a newer car does not mean that you need to do that. Keep it simple.
For my own life, I think about the housing boom of a few years ago. At that point, my home was growing in value every year. My realtor approached me more than once and encouraged me to "buy up" in terms of a home because the increased value of my condo would help get into a house. Repeatedly I told him I simply did not need more living space. Even though I could afford it at the time, I didn't need it.
But I'm not just talking about stuff. It's also an issue of time. Sometimes I need to refuse to do email and instead spend some time reading scripture. Sometimes I need to refuse to make my time entirely my own, and instead get off my duff and go to that service project at the Rescue Mission. Other times, I need to refuse to say something gossipy or negative or sarcastic. You get my drift.
So there it is. Repent. Reduce. Reuse. Refuse. Recycle. I like it.
Happy 2011 to you -- feel free to share your own "ones" as we proceed from 1/1/11.