“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
-Hebrews 13:8 NRSV
I can’t tell you the last time I made an actual New Year’s resolution, but every year they stress me out. I’m all for goal-setting and self-improvement, and each year I ask every team member of our church staff (including myself) to think through what we can do better. It’s not the follow-through that bothers me, it’s the generation.
I typically don’t make a resolution because I get annoyed while making one. For some reason “lay off Coke” or “read more” just don’t cut the mustard as special or significant enough to pledge a year towards. There’s a part of me that needs to dream up something brand new that no one else has thought of, or a challenge so big and bold it’ll stretch the imagination – until something stops me and helps me realize the words of Quoheleth in Ecclesiastes 1:9: “There is nothing new under the sun.”
We don’t often like that sentiment, but I think it’s only depressing because we’re so addicted to “new.” Even if we like to eat at the same restaurants over and over again, there’s still a sense of excitement that new possibilities exist, and I dare say there might be economic panic and a sense of disease if the growth were to ever stop. We say we want construction to stop on Stacy, but what’s the saying, “If you’re not growing, you’re dying?”
The assertions in Ecclesiastes and Hebrews about “sameness,” are meant to call our proclivity towards upheaval into question. Does everything always have to be new? Or are there eternal truths, ancient teachings, and historic practices that actually serve us better?
If you read the opening of Hebrews 13 you’ll find very common practices of hospitality, charity, and fidelity that might seem second nature because of their longevity, but I can assure you they aren’t as common as you think. Yet most of us would read that list of practices and agree they are beneficial. Perhaps what we need less of are new endeavors and more focus on endeavors to re-create ourselves in the eternal wisdom and grace of God.
Pastor Adam will be leading us this Sunday in a service more commonly known as “The Wesley Covenant Service.” Each worship service will partake in their normal style of music, but both worship hours will be invited to participate more than usual in a liturgy of repentance, focus, clarity, and commitment. It will be an excellent time to realize that God hasn’t changed – and that’s a very good thing. I pray that you find it to be a reaffirmation that we aren’t the first ones in need of God’s grace, and praise God it’s been there for a long time.