Yesterday I spoke to our Church congregation of perhaps 250 people about opportunities and challenges as we enter the New Year. As I prepared my sermon, I was tempted to do the normal by suggesting behaviors that should define our discipleship as Christians. But in my mind’s eye I kept seeing the young mother’s in the congregation struggling with their young families trying to be attentive as they took mental notes of all the things they needed to do better.
At that point I had a major stupor of thought and my approach shifted gears. Don’t get me wrong, the behaviors I would have been pontificating weren’t the problem. They are all decent things.
The problem was seeking to change behavior when someone is already living a stellar life helping young children grow-up in a loving atmosphere. What more should be “required” of these young moms, and for that matter, dads. Raising a family is certainly one of the most satisfying pursuits in life. I didn’t want to do anything to derail such a sacred and happy process. So I deepened by contemplation and sought a better way to encourage and uplift. Surely going to hear sermons on January 1st should be an uplifting experience.
So I focused my thoughts on what to me is one of the best sources of motivation and strength to do “good” with our lives. Relying on the power of the Grace of Christ to help us access and maintain a life of positive loving outreach.
Where does the power to do good come from? Atheists and theologians will debate this notion forever. Is it a spiritual gift or do humans have the ability to embrace an ethical moral mindset? You may be surprised that I think it’s a combination of influences. I think nature, nurture, and God all play a role in this most dynamic endeavor.
So here is what I hope I shared during my sermon:
1) How to access the power of the Grace of Christ to help us improve our discipleship. It is a spiritual gift for those who seek it.
2) Seek to Come unto Christ by following his example of love, kindness, gentleness, acceptance, and service.
3) Teach doctrine rather than programs and procedures. Teach correct principles rather than a list of specific behaviors. We honor the freedom of the soul by respecting ability to know what to do to help ourselves and others.
4) Perfectionism is like the fanatic who lost his way and redoubled his pace down the wrong path. Keep it simple, serve others, and it’s OK to take good care of yourself. Spend some time sharpening your own saw.
Every New Year in some ways we are like a blank canvas ready for the weaver’s magic touch. Whom we allow to work on our tapestry is up to us. Choosing wisely is helped by practice and experience. The notion of acceptance of and reliance on an all wise spiritual connection is almost universal---no matter what our concept of God is. So how will we weave our tapestry in 2012? I have full confidence that it will be absolutely beautiful 363 days from now.