Went to church this morning, and as usual at church here, I was distracted, wishing I were still at home, and not 100% into the service. In fact, the only reason I went was because it was my turn to count/record the money from the collection plate. I figured as it was the 1st Sunday of the new year, I’d go to the service (often when I have to count, I just skip the service and show up just before the closing hymn).
I know that the ACP is no Old South Church (in Boston) ... there, I always leave the service uplifted, happy, bursting at the seams - wanting to tell whoever I see for brunch after, or talk on the phone, about the service / message / music / joy / fellowship. I very rarely get that feeling at the ACP, and I try, I really do. Obviously I either (a) do not try hard enough ; (b) am trying too much, and thus miss something ; (c) need to go to the American Cathedral instead.
Anyway, here are the bright points in what was otherwise a long 90 minute service (25 min sermon) today at the ACP (in a week or so, you can read/listen to the sermon here) :
1/One of my all-time top favorite hymns was the closing hymn, “Here I Am Lord.” I love love love this hymn - the words, the melody, and the peace it gives me. This is on my list of “funeral songs” for whenever that time comes for me and if a traditional funeral service is held for me. Listen here, and watch a UCC video! (this version is a bit slower than I prefer, but you get the drift.)
2/Sermon : was titled “A Genuinely New Year.” Two of Pastor Laurie’s thoughts in the beginning were good, and definitely food for thought for the week --
-->Are you making new year’s resolutions/commitments/promises, or are you just rearranging all the old things from 2010?
-->‘We cannot reclaim what time and decay have usurped.’
3/Sermon : focus was that we should not create new year’s resolutions, in that we cannot create anything new (i.e. something cannot be both ‘new and improved’), instead, we should have New Covenant Resolutions, and use these three :
3.1/Begin with God : It is not about you, about what you will do, or how you will be.
--nothing you can do will make anything new
--for example, if your resolution is ‘to spend more time at home with family’, your New Covenant Resolution’ would be ‘to get involved in the spiritual [or other type] growth of my family’
--or, for example, if your resolution is to ‘loose weight’, then your New Covenant Resolution is along the lines of sharing more and knowing that God provided yesterday, and today, and therefore God will provide tomorrow, so don’t be gluttonous today.
3.2/Know God : Get over your delusional ideas about God and get to know God through Jesus.
--Christianity is not true/false, but a relationship
--for example, when you ask someone to marry you, you don’t expect a response of ‘true’, but rather ‘yes’. The ‘yes’ implies a relationship, a commitment, a future of growth/struggle/searching that is entered into together. So it is with religion. Faith is not a true/false endeavor, but rather one that is a future of growth/struggle/searching that is entered into together, between you and God.
3.3/Live Forgiving : Get over your own failures and the failures of others.
--nothing [good] ever comes from holding grudges, it only comes from forgiveness
--God entrusts the ministry, the task, of reconciliation to us
So, I'm not sure what I'm doing this year ... resolutions or covenants (or nothing). For NY resolutions (which I never keep), Lenten sojourns, or other times of commitment, I try to focus on one thing from each category : Healthy, Wealth, and Wise, for from Heart, Mind, Body and Soul. I haven't thought/committed to anything for 2011 yet, and based upon this sermon, I think I need to refocus! Hopefully by the end of January I'll have it figured out.