I am not the type to get "touched" by a scripture reading at church. I usually listen to them and read along and think about them and analyze them the way we used to do in my New Testament class in college, but they don't usually resonate with me. I am also not really the type to make New Year's resolutions. In this blog entry, I am going to go against both of those in one fell swoop. Prepare ye.
Christmas Eve was a bipolar kind of affair for my family. It's usually one of my favorite parts of the holiday since it is when my mother makes her kick-butt spaghetti sauce and danish cucumbers and all of the family is together and we dress up and go listen to harp music at church. It's always lovely, it's always calming, and I always find the holiday spirit in many ways that night. For the most part that was all still true this year, but we did have some unexpected drama that kind of put a damper on the evening. Let's just say that some of the adults behaved a bit more like teenagers than might be appropriate. And not in an "OMG it's Christmas" kind of way, but in a "I'm going to kill you because you drive me crazy so let's yell about it" kind of way. Fun times. But anyway, we all managed to sit down for our spaghetti without anyone pulling out anyone's hair, and we all dutifully trooped to church and sat near the front (my family is kind of snobby about their church seats). I felt that it was good for us to be at church. First of all, no one had to talk. Second, we could take the time to reflect on why we were all here together in the first place. The first reading (the epistle) seemed to fit right in with what I wanted to get from the service and I felt as if God had put it there for me and my family as a reminder. And for once I didn't brush off that feeling or scoff at myself for being "mushy" or whatever. I re-read the passage and pointed out the part that struck me to my mother, who rolled it up and brought it home. (PS- I saw that she had torn that sections out and put it in her bathroom. I guess God talked to her too.)
I went back a few days later after even more (and much more serious) drama occured and re-read the passage, expecting that it would have lost some of its sparkle. I was surpirsed to find that a different part of the reading grabbed me and again resonated somewhere inside of me. So I decided to take this little snippet into my heart and make it my resolution for the year of sorts... here is the passage so that I can make this make better sense (it's from Titus)...
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all, training us to renounce impiety and worldly passions, and in the present age to live lives that are self-controlled, upright, and godly, while we wait for the blessed hope an the manifestation of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. He it is who gave himself for us that he might redeem us from all iniquity and purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds."
The first part that struck me (on Christmas Eve) is the bold section. I had never thought of "self-controlled" as a trait that God would specifically want us to strive for, but it makes complete sense. So this year, I'm applying that to my eating and exercise habits, the amount I sleep in every morning, and trying to plan my classes and my choreography so that I am getting the most out of myself and the people I work with. Upright will manifest itself in the way I handle myself in disagreements and when I get frustrated in my classes, and godly in my relationships within our new church and my attention to God.
The second part that struck me was the last phrase: "zealous for good deeds". Not that we perform works of good, but that we actively seek them out and are excited to peform them. That we celebrate not only the action of performing acts of kindness, but the opportunities to do so. I hope that I can be that way in the coming year. And in every year for that matter.
Happy New Year!