By Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle
As we enter into a new year, in fact, a new decade, space is created for us to challenge ourselves, to consider what we could and perhaps should do better.
New Year’s resolutions are common and often take the form of a commitment to lose weight, give up problematic habits or simply be healthier. How often do we include in our self-reflection consideration about how we might be better disciples? What would it look like to establish resolutions for ourselves that invite us into new ways of living out our faith? To what extent could we use the Marks of Mission as a framework from which to challenge ourselves in 2020?
To proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom: How often do we talk about our faith with others? Some would say that religion and politics are two topics that should not be raised in polite conversation. While religion does provide some tools for living our faith, faith itself is an expression of our relationship with God which exists within and beyond religion. Faith is in our encounter with the Divine in a sunrise or sunset. Faith is seeing God in the face of others. Faith is found in those moments of struggle, grief and anxiety along with those moments of joy, grace and peace for which we can give thanks to God. How might we choose to share these moments with others this year?
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers: I have heard many parents lament that church is not a priority in the lives of their children and their grandchildren are not being baptised. What might it look like to share our faith in other ways? How can we teach about God by example and witness? What books or movies might we share with others that could invite a conversation about faith? What moments in the Christian calendar might we observe together in creative ways that acknowledge God ongoing presence in this world? What more can we commit to do to better learn about God ourselves so that we can then share this with others?
To respond to human need by loving service: Needs surround us. There are those who are lonely and long for a visit; those who live in poverty who long to have enough; those who are marginalised who long to feel accepted by the wider community; those who live in fear and long for safety. There are people in need all around us. What actions might we commit to do to lovingly respond to these needs this year?
To seek to transform unjust structures of society, to challenge violence of every kind and to pursue peace and reconciliation: There is much about life that isn’t fair. Companies put profits before people. Governments balance budgets sometimes at the expense of those who are vulnerable. We prioritise the interests of some over the needs of others. Life isn’t fair in ways that fail to respect the dignity of every human being. It has become easier to be aware of these injustices. As we are challenged by people’s stories, how do we respond? To what extent have we participated in petitions, awareness raising, protests, letter writing, social media advocacy and the multitude of other ways now available in which to challenge and invite change? What commitments can we make for 2020 to engage in advocacy alongside those who are marginalised?
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth: God’s creation is beautiful. When God created everything had its place and its purpose. Have you had the opportunity to truly appreciate the wonder of a native garden and the incredible diversity it brings? Have you seen the devastation of human waste on beaches and in waterways? The contrast is striking. What commitments could you make in 2020 to reduce waste, promote sustainable practices and nurture the beauty of what God intended?
As we move into 2020, we are gifted with an invitation to reflect and resolve. What resolutions will you make? To what extent will these resolutions be an expression of a desire to be a better disciple of Jesus? How will you hold yourself accountable in the days, weeks, and months to come? Let us pray that, inspired by Emmanuel, God with us as experienced in the wonder and joy of the Christmas season we may continually seek to be examples of God’s loving presence in our commitments for the coming year and beyond. Amen.
Rev. Chris Brouillard-Coyle is the Social and Ecological Justice Huron chair.