What's Your New Year's Resolution?

If you're like most people, your resolution is something like one of these (from USA.gov): Drink less Alcohol; Get a Better Education; Get a Better Job; Get Fit; Lose Weight; Manage Debt; Manage Stress; Quit Smoking Now; Reduce, Reuse and Recycle; Save Money; Take a Trip; and Volunteer to Help Others.

Sound familiar? Sound TOO familiar? Have some of these shown up too many times over the past years, with no real progress or change in your life or situation? This seems to be a pretty universal condition. Change, even needed, positive change, is hard.

You've heard the old joke (I think I told it in my first sermon here at Trinity over 16 years ago!): How many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb?


We don't like change, do we? Another "joke" along those lines, which sadly has more truth than not: "The Seven Last Words of the Church: 'We've Never Done It that Way Before.'"  These two attitudes together can cause real problems for a person who doesn't like change in their personal life, or for a church that needs to grow and change. 

For this brand-spanking New Year, I propose we change an attitude. Let's be completely open to what God is going to do in our lives and our church! Yes, it's unpredictable, not always under our control, maybe different, but if we go into the year EXPECTING that God is going to do a New Thing among us, and are open to WHATEVER God calls us to do and be, it WILL BE AN EXCITING YEAR!

We read in Isaiah 43, 18 Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. 19 I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.  Isaiah 43:18-19 (NRSV)  

What new things do you suppose God will do among us? What "way in the wilderness, river in the desert" do you suppose God will lead us through? I get REALLY EXCITED thinking about it! The Christian life, led by the Spirit, is NEVER boring, NEVER predictable, NEVER "old," but ALWAYS exciting, ALWAYS life-giving, ALWAYS "new." Would we really want it any other way? I don't think so!!!

Is your life playing out as you hoped? Do you feel fulfilled? These questions are meant to transcend money and material haves and have-nots. These things come and go, and if we tie our emotional and spiritual well-being to what we have or don't have, we surely will be in for a rough ride!

For  people of faith, the real answers begin with our faith and faith-response to God's love and grace in Christ. Is your idea of faith connected with what God does for you materially? If so, sorry, but you've missed the point.

What God HAS DONE FOR US THROUGH JESUS is where we start. We are set free from the power of sin and the fear of death. We are forgiven and empowered to live lives of healing and forgiveness ourselves. We are blessed with God's love, presence and hope, and because of that, we are free to find fulfillment in how we live, making choices that bless others and bring them to know Christ as we know him.

So - back to New Year's resolutions. Resolve to deal with the issues in your life (like that M&M addiction!), but more important than that, resolve to take steps to grow in your faith. Come to church every chance you get! No excuses! Bring friends and relatives to church! Get involved in a study!

-  Our Church on Wednesday class will be starting an exciting study on Islam and the differences between it and Christianity (by request of the last class, begins 1/12, 10 am and 6 pm! Continues until the Wednesday before Ash Wednesday).

-  Our Women's Bible Study group meets on the 3rd Tuesday of the month at 7:30 pm.

-  There are two Adult Bible Studies meeting on Sunday morning between services - a women's study group in the AMC and Pastor Anna-Kari's study meeting in the School Library.

-  The Men's Prayer Group meets on Saturday mornings at 7 am for study and then go out to breakfast together. They currently meet at Paul Aasness' home, 14421 Gravillea Ave., Lawndale, 310-973-1459.

-  Our Latino Ministry Committee has got some AMAZING things coming up! The Tamales y Posadas event was spectacular!!! And that was just the beginning... Stay tuned!

-  The Worship Life of the community of faith here is really fulfilling - open yourself up to grow, learn from God's word, give yourself over to worship with all your heart!

-  Our Jr-Sr High youth meet for fellowship, fun and Bible Study from 5-9 on Wednesdays. Sunday school is available for youth of all ages between services on Sunday, and the Jr./Sr. high also have a Bible Study at that time.

-  Our Confirmation kids (6th-8th grades) meet in the pastor's office on Wednesdays, starting again on January 12, from 7-8:15 pm. Continues until the Wednesday before Ash Wednesday.

-  And for fellowship and literary stimulation, the Book Club (adults) meets on the second Tuesday of the month at 7:15 pm (but in February, 6:30 for pizza, discussion & movie!). And Jazz Concerts one Saturday each month at 6 pm! (the Saturday of each month varies - check the newsletter or bulletin for info. January's concert is on the 15th at 6 pm.

So, there you have it - the Solutions to your New Year's Resolutions to grow in faith, all laid out for you.  For the M&M's, you're on your own...

God's Richest Blessings for 2011!

Pastor Larry Becker