Letter from the Church Council

 New Year Resolutions

The church calendar year begins with the first Sunday in Advent when the cycle of Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Lent etc. begins again. The calendar year begins on the 1st January. It can be said that ACC’s new year starts with its Annual General Meeting (5th February 2023 this year), when committees present their reports on their activities of the past year; new Council elders are elected; a new budget proposal is looked at and approved; and committees and programs seek new volunteers. At any of these ‘New Years’ we can make a resolution to ‘do more’ or ‘do less’ or ‘do better’. The ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year resolutions, some 4,000 years ago; though for them, their new year was mid-March when crops were being planted. During their massive 12-day religious festival, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king.

The words resolve, resolute, resolution all come from the same Latin root. After resolving and coming to a conclusion about a question or problem, then one could proceed to act in dealing with the issue. This process implies analysis and evaluation of the past, decision making about what can be done, and then proceeding into action. All of which is a similar process to our AGM. We too, as a church, make new year’s resolutions.

Each year, millions of people worldwide make individual ‘New Year’ resolutions; over 50% in some countries. They may feel it is time to improve their health, do something more purposeful with their spare time, learn something new. They make a plan of action of how they will do these things and start doing them. 23% quit by the end of the first week; 64% after the first month; and only 9% successfully keep their resolutions throughout the year. How do we at ACC do? Do we say we will do ‘x’ activity and then never show up? Or say we will do ‘y’ and only turn up a few times? Or do we do what we said we will do throughout the year?

I enjoy ‘words’; their meanings and origins. So, I will return back to the word ‘resolute’. Synonyms for resolute include faithful, loyal, steadfast, staunch. How often do we hear and read those words in the Bible; during worship service or our hymns? How often do we use those words to describe those who we feel best exemplify the Christian faith in action? How often can those words be applied to ourselves, either individually or as a community of Christians?

When I think of the words faithful, steadfast, staunch, I often think of Brother Lawrence, born around 1608 in Lorraine, France. An ex-soldier turned Carmelite monk, he spent over 40 years in the monastery kitchen as a cook. Along the way he learned to, what he called, ‘practice the presence of God’. In everything he did, no matter how mundane or tedious, he saw an opportunity and way of expressing God’s love. “We can do little things for God; I turn the cake that is frying on the pan for love of him, and that done, if there is nothing else to call me, I prostrate myself in worship before him, who has given me grace to work; afterwards I rise happier than a king. It is enough for me to pick up but a straw from the ground for the love of God.”

Can we, individually and collectively, reaffirm our loyalty to our King? Can we use our AGM as a time of making resolutions to take action on serving God, our faith family and the wider community to the best of our abilities and using our time and talents faithfully and steadfastly? Can we, as Brother Lawrence did, see that every action, no matter how small, mundane or tedious can be an expression of God’s love, if that action is done with an awareness of God’s presence in all aspects of our lives?