Sunday, January 16, 2011


This is taken from a communion meditation I gave at one of our supporting churches on January 2nd.


Happy New Year!

I haven’t spoken to each of you to know whether you are approaching the new year with a sense of renewed hope and optimism, or whether you are thinking more along the lines of “great, another new year of the same old problems and struggles, woohoo”. I’d guess that there’s a great deal of both sentiments here among us today. If I’m honest, there’s plenty of both of those even within me this morning. But one thing I know is this: Everybody is talking about “new year’s resolutions”.

Resolutions. Goals. THIS year I’m going to START doing this or that, or STOP doing this or that, or FINALLY get around to taking care of this or that…

Resolutions. Derived from the word “resolve”, which means “to come to a definite and earnest decision about; determine (to do something); to settle; to solve; to deal with conclusively”. I RESOLVE that this year I WILL make this happen, make this change.

And these are good things to think about. And goal-setting is vital. And how we manage the free WILL that God gives us is extremely, extremely important.

But … as 2010 becomes 2011, I can’t stop thinking about a particular scripture where Jesus says “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” That’s John 15:5, and it’s a verse to which I must continually return in my life in order to be reminded that apart from Jesus I won’t accomplish SOME of the things God wants me to do, I won’t “make progress”, I won’t do more good than bad... No, instead I am reminded that apart from Jesus, no matter how great my resolve, I will accomplish NOTHING in 2011. Though the whole world pat me on the back, God’s perspective is this: Apart from Jesus, I accomplish NOTHING. Nothing that matters, anyway.

So right now I’m thinking a lot about not only how to resolve, but also how to REMAIN. In the first eight verses of John 15, that word appears eight times. Remain…

We often come to this time of communion with a “resolve” attitude. Okay, dummy, time to confess, humble yourself, re-focus on Jesus, get back on track. And that’s great. That’s what gets us to the table. But once we’re there, I think it’s also important to move from resolving to remaining. Enjoy God’s loving presence. Feel His grace pouring over us. Allow Him in. Experience the wonderful mystery of being “in Him”, and He “in us”.

So in this new year may your business grow, may your family thrive, may you lose that weight and keep it off, may you finally get involved in that ministry by doing more than just praying for it … and so on and so forth … but most importantly, may you RESOLVE to REMAIN in Christ, never losing the life-giving connection to the True Vine which is your only link, and mine, to any significant change.

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