Epiphany 1c/Baptism of Jesus – Sunday 13th January 2012
Luke 3: 15-17, 21-22
How’s your New Year’s Resolution list going? How many items did you choose to place upon it this year? Main topics often concern weight and exercise, sorting out finances, making more time for family. I usually throw in one or two religious themes as well – after all, it pays to keep on the good side of the Big Man – pledging to pray a bit more, maybe even read the Bible in a single year.
Okay, so I’m not very good at this. You’re probably much more resolute than I am. So, how many resolutions remain unbroken?
Difficult isn’t it? It seems such a hardship to have to keep them going for the next 51 weeks. Alternatively, – and this works for me - you could just keep going full pelt at them for the next five weeks, when Ash Wednesday suddenly appears on the horizon, and then give them all up for Lent!
I must confess I come at this from all the wrong angles. The dreams are so big that the disappointment is equally huge. I spend from March till December telling myself that next year is going to be an amazing year because I’m going to make huge changes. And then within 5 days of a New Year I know it’s all bluster and hot-air. The trouble is my dreams are all too big.
- What’s the first mountain I want to climb? Mt Everest.
- What’s the lottery I want to win? Euromillions 4 week rollover £89 million draw.
- What’s the next football match I want to watch? Leicester City lifting the FA Cup.
- What’s the book I want to write? The Sunday Times No.1 bestseller.
- Where’s my next promotion coming from? I’m patiently waiting for the Archbishop of Canterbury post to become vacant again.
Get real. Why big up the New Year with a six-pack dream? Why not take one step at a time? Small manageable steps. Celebrate little achievements. Using them as stepping stones for the future.
And there’s no better place to start than with Luke’s gospel. Jesus is on his way:
The main character in this drama, to whom I’m a mere stagehand, will ignite the kingdom life, a fire, the Holy Spirit within you, changing you from the inside out. He’s going to clean house—make a clean sweep of your lives.
In fact, why make a list? As a New Year resolution why not just invite the Holy Spirit into your heart, to cleanse, to clean and throw out all that is hindering your life. Why not just ask God to flourish in your life. Why not ask him to bring about all the things he should be doing in your life, rather than your vain hopes and impossible dreams.
Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a fantastic ambition to lose a few pounds or learn a new language or pray through your congregation every day, and I have the utmost respect for those with the strength and determination to really work at their resolutions.
But for me, and I suspect a great many other people too, I should work harder at praying for a baptism of the Spirit every day rather than dreaming the impossible dream. And who knows, one day, if I keep my eyes focussed on the kingdom, if I concentrate on bringing glory to God, if I’m faithful in the little things … the prayer, the study, the good and kind deeds, the worship … then perhaps one or two of my little dreams might take root.
I dream a dream … “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.”