Someone once said to me that the reason why they had never made any new year’s resolutions was because they knew that they would always fail to keep them. Personal discipline is so often sacrificed upon the altar of good intentions; the list is legion. In faith matters, people can find all sorts of reasons why not to commit themselves to a certain way of thinking or behaving because, as they would argue, the expectation associated with religious conviction is so high that there’s seems to be little point in setting out on the journey towards it in the first place!! What’s the point of starting when one knows that one will inevitably fail?
There is an odd sort of logic to this approach and it is easy to understand. But in Christian terms there is no such thing as failure, simply endless opportunities for new beginnings.
We embark upon another year and under God and by His grace, we will find ourselves in situations that provide moments in which we may serve Him. But throughout that year we will no doubt find ourselves failing in living the high calling, which by virtue of our Baptism, we must aspire to. It is for good reason when we meet together for the Holy Communion that we bring before God a penitent heart for what we have failed to do in thought, word and deed.
But before one becomes a bit too depressed and down on oneself, one has to recognise that the wonderful miracle is that our failings are more often than not the most effective ways of serving God and drawing closer to him; ironic or what!!! Those who have failed or “gone down” are the ones who are most capable of understanding “up”.
As the Fransiscan priest Fr Richard Rohr suggests, “We grow spiritually more by doing it wrong than by doing it right.” Now there’s food for thought.
This year at St Anne’s people of all ages will be presenting themselves for confirmation into the Church of England at the hand of the Bishop. The preparation and instruction that they undergo will not lead the candidates inexorably to a point of perfection on the third Sunday in June! But it will allow each person to declare their personal commitment to Christ and His Church and their intention to do their best – failings and all!
And that of course is true for all of us conformed or not – we simply try to do our best to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, knowing that our heavenly Father continues to love us come what may – and come what may we will carry on.
Every blessing for 2017