Ministerial Musings: Time for Those Resolutions

I am very sorry for my recent extended absence. I was finishing the dissertation for my Ph.D. and was under a colossal deadline. My thanks to those of you who wrote and called asking for me to come back; it feels so good to be wanted.

Well, the New Year is here. Actually, as I write these musings, it is not quite here yet, but it is on the horizon, and not the “distant” one. For many people, resolutions conjure up images of working out more often, eating healthier foods, quitting smoking, developing a new hobby, or spiritual discipline.

While I was getting dressed this morning, the Today Show was on television. The feature story that I half-listened to was about baby boomers heading into retirement. They listed, by percentages, what retirees were hoping to do as they approached their golden years. Ten percent of those surveyed wanted to deepen their spiritual life.

This is not the case for boomers alone. Many of us, whether we attend church regularly or not, want to deepen our spiritual life. So, as we enter the New Year, what are some of the practices that we can adopt to deepen our faith?

PRAYER. When I was in Boston for my Ph.D. defense this month, I went to a seminary located near my parents’ house to do some studying. On the bulletin board was a posting from the school’s student association encouraging the entire seminary community to pray three times a day.

What if we did the same? How about a morning prayer asking God to present you with an opportunity to serve Christ that day in a way you would not expect? How about an afternoon prayer for someone near and dear to your heart? How about an evening prayer? Not, “Now I lay me down to sleep,” per se, but, “Thank you God for all the blessings you have poured into my life today.”

SCRIPTURE. On January 1, many people go to a bookstore to buy a Bible that is divided into 365 readings. They want to read the Bible in one year. They start with the Garden of Eden and follow Israel out of Egyptian captivity, but by the time they hit Leviticus and Numbers, they put their new Bibles on the shelf, never to crack them open again.

Instead of setting ourselves up to fail, what if we tackle the daily Lectionary readings or subscribe to daily e-devotionals published by denominations such as the United Church of Christ (ucc.org), whose National Offices are located right here in Cleveland? There are many ways to read Scripture that are feasible and nourishing. The idea is simply to engage the Scriptures each day and let them engage us so that we can hear God’s still-speaking voice.

I could offer more ideas, but let’s pause there. Prayer and Scripture. These, along with attending church regularly and reading the works of people such as Barbara Brown Taylor, Henri Nouwen, and Kathleen Norris, will help us journey through 2011 with a substantive God-consciousness. Let us resolve to do so together for this will form, inform, and transform everything we do as God’s people.

Happy New Year!

The Rev. Dr. John Tamilio III, Ph.D., is the Senior Pastor of Pilgrim Congregational United Church of Christ in the Tremont neighborhood of Cleveland. He lives in Lakewood with his wife and their three children.

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Volume 7, Issue 1, Posted 9:06 AM, 01.12.2011