Ministerial Musings: "What is Your 'Hope' for the New Year?"
We often approach January 1st with resolutions: the weight we need to shed, the nicotine we need to stop breathing, the Scriptures we hope to traverse in one year. Ten, nine, eight…we pop the champagne and pour libations for the family members and friends watching Dick Clark…seven, six, five…we raise a toast in hopes of peace and health…four, three, two…we breathe in the last seconds of the year with hope and maybe a bit of trepidation…one…here it comes…zero…we holler “Happy New Year!” and kiss our significant others. Confetti flies across many a bar room. Frigid bodies in Times Square scream in unison jubilation. In Boston, the remains of 2009 are scattered among tables of chicken fingers, egg rolls, and pork lo mein. We hit the hay and awake to a national holiday. For me it is forty-eight hours of The Twilight Zone on the SyFy Channel and the day before my birthday. For others it is the first day of the resolutions that they won’t keep — the same ones they made twelve months earlier and abandoned shortly after. Is that all there is? Is that all that the New Year has to offer? (Read: rhetorical question.) Obviously, the answer is no. The New Year falls perfectly within the Christian liturgical calendar. We are still in the midst of the twelve days of Christmas — and not because of that song. The birth that we celebrated a week before is still with us. Bethlehem still stands by the living room evergreen whose brown needles emit a stronger scent of winter pine. Our hearts are still aglow with the promises the Christ child brings. Maybe this can be a resolution in itself? No, I am not saying that we make everyday Christmas. (Capitalism has already stretched it from two weeks to two months.) What I am suggesting, though, is that maybe the hope the Christ child brings can burn in our hearts the rest of the year.
Hope is an empty term, unless we qualify it. Frances Bacon said that, “Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper.” But what would it mean if we really lived guided by hope? I cannot answer that for you, but I want you to ask yourself that question. Pray about it. Let it ruminate in your heart. Then, let me know your answer. E-mail me your response and I will report on them later: firstname.lastname@example.org. Just remember the words of Martin Luther, “Everything that is done in the world is done by hope.” Amen.
John Tamilio III is the Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. A musician and a nationally published author, John lives in Lakewood with his wife, Susan, and their three children.