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    Director, Children's Ministry
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All That’s Fair: New Year’s Resolution

2019 will be the 39th transition into a new year that I’ve experienced in my life time.  For so many years growing up and in college I remembered watching all the excitement and revelry on TV, hearing the song “Auld Lang Syne” as the ball dropped in Times Square.  All the people would be arm in arm, many would be kissing, others would be crying. It looked like everyone was full of hope and joy, or maybe a little madness and too much wine. As I got older, I just viewed New Year’s Eve as an opportunity to hide out in the woods and have a cigar by myself or with a few close friends, because everyone else would be busy being ridiculous.  I didn’t really get swept up into the spirit of it all. Why would a million people in NYC cram into a tight spot and get all emotional about time itself?  Literally rejoicing in the simple fact that the clock arms actually kept moving after 11:59 on December 31st!?  It just seemed a little kooky to my contrarian disposition. I just didn’t have any use for it. Nor did I care about any of the silly traditions like New Years resolutions. I thought those things were for everyone else, and I was smarter than everyone else…

Fast forward a few years ... My kids were very young and I was working at Southwood.  Christmastide with all of its rich story and song tradition would come and go. The introspection and longing of advent would be left as a palpable afterglow in my heart. I was an adult, doing adult things ... holding down a steady job, parenting, dealing with marriage and relationship ups and downs ... I couldn’t help but examine my life thus far as each new year would approach.  The timing of the season would become more poignant. Was I where I wanted to be? Why or why not? What needed to change? I felt more listless and rudderless with every passing broadcast from Times Square. And it didn’t seem like there was anything to be done about it. 
The magi brought gifts under the radar of a genocidal tyrant, traveling through wars and injustice, to stake their claim in what Jesus represents for all humankind… hope.  He was the hinge that transitioned from a divergent and isolated past, into a world where the temple veil was torn. And whether they acknowledge it or not, all people feel this longing: a lingering desire for the mess of the present slate to be wiped clean, that we might have a hopeful period ahead of us, full of possibilities. 

Epiphany is the traditional Christian feast commemorating this event. The Zoroastrian kings came with their polytheistic mindsets to pay tribute to a King of kings, a Lord of lords, a chosen child who brings good tidings to all men. They brought him gold, the glory of a king.  They brought him frankincense, the waftings of deity. And they brought him myrrh, an anointing of one who would carry the greatest weight in history ... the death of all our fear ... They knew he was special. He was hope personified. Even if they didn’t articulate it that way, that’s what they knew. The magi answer the question, “what can I do?” They felt the tension in the world, and perhaps in their own lives, that something needed to give. Some new era needed to be ushered in. 

John Lennon asks the question in his own beautiful way in his song “Happy Xmas (War is Over).” And I’ve come to embrace what he’s saying in a much more wholistic fashion than I ever would have in my Twenties. Rather than a trite New Year’s resolution, Lennon, Epiphany, and my own shattered expectations bring me to a deeper hope, a New Year’s intention. A clean slate. Another chance to do the right thing, paying homage in the right direction.