On this New Year’s Day, we awaken encouraged and infused with hope that the lessons of past years — both good and bad — will make us wise, that the pain of failure will make us insightful, that the joy of accomplishment will make us thankful, that the memories of everything in between will linger throughout a year that is rife with untold promise.
We asked leaders within the local faith community to share their New Year’s resolutions:
“If I had to come up with one thing I wish for the world as a whole, it would be better communication. I pray that we may all be better listeners who are willing to engage with each other in meaningful dialogue without it deteriorating into debate where each party feels the need to prove the other one wrong. Perhaps better communication would also allow us to find more peaceful solutions to the world’s troubles and thus end war forever.
May Christ, the prince of peace, help us to become people who work for peace in our homes, our city, our state, and our world.”
— Father Bryan Lowe, Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
“For the New Year: Greater communication. Greater cooperation. Greater camaraderie. The words “cease fire,” as we beat our swords into plowshares and our spears into running hooks, all leading to shalom — peace.”
— Rabbi David A. Baylinson, Temple Beth El
“The scripture that plagues my mind all the time is Psalm 115:16, which says, ‘The highest heavens belong to the Lord, but the earth he has given to man.’ The new birth gives me heavenly citizenship, but I must not be so heavenly minded that I become no earthly good. God’s eyes are on the earth, and I want to start seeing things more and more from his perspective. We’re not ruling the earth like God told us to do. I guess you could sum up what I aspire for the coming year with this statement: ‘A deeper and greater awareness of who God is, who I am, and my responsibility to carry out his dominion in the earth.’”
— Bob McClain, Living by Faith Ministry, Oxford
“I do not have any great words of wisdom. I am distressed by the tone and direction of our national politics and by extension our society, though there have been some brighter moments recently. I would like to see people of faith truly take seriously the biblical (though not exclusive to the Bible) injunction to “do justice, love kindness and walk humbly with God” (Micah 6:8).
“For Christians, the strongest mandate in the Bible is to care for the “widow, the orphan, the stranger,” which is to say care for the most vulnerable in society. So let us do that, let us care and act on that caring, contrary to the prevailing political winds which are pressing for a reduction of aid for the poorest among us and a complete rejection of the stranger (read ‘alien’ or ‘immigrant’).
“As far as my congregation is concerned, I hope we can look forward and embrace the future that is coming to meet us without fear. There is so much anxiety inside and outside the church. It is well to note that one of the most often uttered phrases in the Bible is, ‘Do not fear.’ So, will we heed our sacred stories and have faith and hope, which enable love … or ignore God’s call and continue to fear?”
— David Rice, First Presbyterian Church, Anniston
“New Year’s is a natural stopping/starting place in all of our lives. Looking back, can be discouraging, by what we did that we are ashamed of, or did not accomplish that we really wanted to do.
The best advice that the Bible gives us is, ‘forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before (us)’ (Philippians 3:13b). There is nothing that I can do about those things that are behind except learn from them, and maybe apologize to someone for how I offended them. Yet, there is much that I can do about the future. I need to set goals and set ways to accomplish those goals throughout the coming year.”
— C.O. Grinstead, Trinity Baptist Church, Oxford
“My New Year’s resolution for Interfaith is to involve more of the faith community in our ministry. Everyone that we assist is told that their assistance is coming from religious organizations in the community.
In reality, volunteer and financial support does not come from every church. If it did, we would not have to spend so much time looking for other sources of income. We would like to see us truly ‘bring God’s people together to serve God’s people in need.’”
— Martha Vandervoort, executive director for Interfaith Ministries of Calhoun County
“For the coming year, we, as Christians, have a total of 8,760 hours to display our faith and trust in Jesus Christ. My prayer is that each individual Christian, each church body, each community and our entire nation will unite in an effort to reflect God’s will in our thoughts, words and deeds. This is possible only by a diligent study of God’s word and living a life of faith, hope, joy and Christian dedication.
“As Christians, each day should show a greater maturity in each of us. A great New Year’s resolution is to grow in Christ during each of the 8,760 hours that will make up 2011.”
— Eddie Blackwelder, senior chaplain and executive director of Liberty Chaplain Ministries, Piedmont
“Since my birthday comes on the heels of Christmas, my birthday has always been absorbed into Christmas. New Year’s has never held much clout for me — or birthdays for that matter. I have accommodated this by practicing the ‘Christian Year,’ which begins on the first Sunday of Advent, normally at the end of November. So, my ‘New Year’ actually begins early, and then I love the 12 days of Christmas, which concludes on Jan. 6 (Epiphany). That way I can stretch Christmas out beyond my birthday.
“I never make New Year’s resolutions, nor do I give up anything for Lent. I think these disciplines should be practiced daily, and assigning one day a year to such concepts seems like a cop out.”
— Monty Clendenin, Covenant Presbyterian Church, Anniston