Rev. Susan Bantz
The Rev. Susan Bantz serves as the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church. She lives in Muscatine where she shares a home with her two Chinese Crested dogs, Affie and Reggie, and tries to find time to read after all the chores are done.

Muscatine Living

Happy New Year! [Insert appropriate horns blowing, lights flashing, balls dropping, and strangers kissing here]. Once again the year has turned and we are looking the next twelve months square in the face, our heads abuzz with all the possibilities that lie ahead (although that could be the champagne from the New Year’s toast): the new leaves to turn over, the resolutions to be made, the pounds to lose, the bad habits to kick…

How many of you reading this are giving serious thought to going back to bed and hiding under the covers, at least until January 2? I know I am.

Unlike Christmas, New Year’s Day doesn’t excite the least amount of anticipation for me. I know it’s supposed to, but the plain fact is that it doesn’t. Every year, all I can see is the long, LONG trek through the months, trying but inevitably failing to keep up with all the grand ideas for self-improvement that seemed so achievable the night before. I admit it—will power is NOT my strong suit.

There is a great comic that shows a pastor asking the congregation, “Who wants change?” Everyone raises their hands, but in the next panel, when the pastor asks, “Who wants TO change?” (emphasis mine), not one person raises their hand. That pretty much sums it up. The process of change is not the easiest thing to do, even when we choose it. It takes courage to start and the ability to stay with it for the long haul. It doesn’t help when the push to change comes with major societal expectations—and social criticism if you fail. Sometimes it seems better to not even try.

No wonder, then, that it seems a little scary when, in Revelation 21:5, God says, “See, I am making all things new.” To make something new means that things have to change and with that change comes the loss of the comfortable and familiar—even when what is comfortable and familiar is ultimately not what is best for us. It’s kind of like Christmas cookies—they are sooo yummy and evoke wonderful memories of Christmases past, but a steady diet of them will quickly lead down a dangerous nutritional path. So as much as we hate to do it, we have to put away the scrumptious recipes and return to healthier patterns when the holidays are over. We know we have to, even if we aren’t perfect at it. The point is to start, to try, and to keep trying, knowing God is with us.

So this New Year’s I think I’m going to make a resolution after all. I resolve to make room in my life for change, to be open to the possibilities and not afraid of the risks. To get up when I fall down. To keep trying, because there is reward in the trying as well as the achieving. And I wish that courage for you as well.

Happy New Year.

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