Jan 1-Mary, Mother of God - Homilies and Stories

Anecdote: There is a beautiful, little story about a long, tedious train journey made, one Christmas day, by some elderly residents of a nursing home who were on their way to a vacation spot. At one station, a young mother with a small child entered the train. The child smiled at all the grim faces around him and began moving from one lap to another talking, shouting with joy and chatting with everyone. Instantly, the grim and silent atmosphere in the train was changed to one of joy and happiness. Today we remember with joy and gratitude, how Mary and her Divine Son Jesus transformed a hopeless, joyless and sinful world into a place of joy and happiness.
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A boy asked his father, "Dad, if three frogs were sitting on a limb that hangs over a pool, and one frog decided to jump off into the pool, how many frogs would be left on the limb?"

The dad replied, "Two." 

"No," the son replied. “Here is the question again: There are three frogs and one decided to jump, how many are left?" 

The dad said, "Oh, I get the point! If one decided to jump, the others would too. So there are none left."
The boy said, "No dad, the answer is three. The frog only DECIDED to jump." 
 
Does that sound like our last year’s resolutions?  Great inspiration and great resolutions, but oftentimes we only decide, and months later we are still on the same limb of doing nothing. 

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Introduction

Since we celebrate the Feast of Mary the Mother of God on New Year's Day, may I take this opportunity to wish you all a Happy and Peaceful New Year. I pray that the Lord Jesus and his mother Mary may enrich your lives during the New Year with an abundance of God's blessings. Today's Feast of "Mary, Mother of God" is a very appropriate way to begin a new year. This celebration reminds us that the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, is also our Heavenly Mother. Hence our ideal motto for the New Year 2008 should be "Through Mary to Jesus!"

Today's feast answers the question of why Catholics honour Mary. Non- Christians sometimes believe that we Catholics worship Mary as a goddess who gave birth to our God. Non Catholic Christians argue that there is no Biblical basis for honouring Mary, and that Catholics worship her and make her equal to God. They fail to understand why we honour Mary by naming churches and institutions after her. They do not understand what we mean by calling her the Mother of God. The truth is that we Catholics do not worship Mary as we worship, adore God. We honour her, respect her, love her and seek her intercession praying, "Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners." We do not, ever, equate her with God nor replace God with her. Rather, we honour her primarily because God honoured her by choosing her to become the mother of Jesus, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, when He took on our flesh and became Man.

Exegesis 

We learn the great truth that Mary is the Mother of God from St. Luke's gospel, in the message given by the angel to Mary: "You are going to be the mother of a Son and you will call Him Jesus, and He will be called the Son of the Most High." When the Blessed Virgin Mary visited Elizabeth, after the angel had appeared to her and told her that she would be the mother of Jesus, Elizabeth said, "Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord's mother comes to visit me?" [Lk. 1:43]. The Holy Scriptures teach us that Jesus was both God and man. John writes: "The Word became flesh and lived among us" [Jn. 1:14]. St Paul refers to this event when he writes to the Galatians, "God sent forth His Son, born of a woman".

The doctrine of the Church: Based on these references in the New Testament and on the traditional belief of the early Church, the Council of Ephesus affirmed in AD 431 that Mary was truly the Mother of God because "according to the flesh" she gave birth to Jesus, who was truly God from the first moment of His conception by Mary. Twenty years later, in AD 451, the Council of Chalcedon affirmed the Motherhood of Mary as a dogma, an official doctrine of the Holy Catholic Church. Since Jesus is God and Mary is his mother, she is the Mother of God, Mother of the Messiah and the Mother of Christ our Divine Saviour. We also learn from the Holy Scriptures and Tradition that God filled the mother of His only Son with all celestial graces, freed her at the moment of her conception from original sin, allowed her to play an active role in the redemptive work of Jesus, and finally took her to heaven, body and soul, after her death. As He was dying on the cross, Jesus gave us the precious gift of His own mother to be our heavenly Mother.  

Life messages 

1) Let us strive to be pure and holy like our heavenly Mother. All mothers want their children to inherit or acquire their good qualities. Our heavenly Mother is no exception. She succeeded in training the Child Jesus, so that He grew in holiness and in "favour before God and man." Hence our best way of celebrating this feast and honouring our heavenly Mother would be to promise her that we will practice her virtues of faith, obedience, purity and humble service. In this way, we will be trying to become the saintly sons and daughters of our heavenly Mother, the holy Mother of God. 

2) Three ways to make the New Year meaningful: a) Something to dream, b) Something to do, and c) Someone to love. "I have a dream'" said Martin Luther King. We should all have a noble plan of action (dream a noble dream) for every day in the New Year. We need to remember the proverb:" Cherish your yesterdays, dream your tomorrows, but live your today." It has been truly said that an idle mind is the devil's workshop. We must not be barren fig trees in God's vineyard. We must be always engaged, doing good to others and loving our fellow men and women, who are our brothers and sisters in Christ. This becomes easy when we make God the center of our life and realize His presence in all the people around us. Let us light a candle instead of blaming the darkness around us. Just as the moon borrows the sun's light to illuminate the earth, we must radiate the light of God shining within us.  

3) A resolution for the New Year: We might resolve to start every morning with a short prayer: "Good morning, Lord. Thank You for extending my life for one more day. Please grant me a special anointing of your Holy Spirit so that I may do your holy will today and avoid everything evil." We might also resolve to say a short prayer, every evening, the last thing we do before we go to sleep: "Thank you Lord for helping me to do your will today. Forgive me, Lord, for saying 'no' to your grace several times today. I am really sorry for all my sins of the day. Please pardon me. And, as we close our eyes, we might say: "Good night, Lord. "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit."

Have a Happy New Year, overflowing with a "Yes" to God our Father, to the Lord Jesus our Savior and to the Holy Spirit our Advocate and our Guide to every good deed. (Fr. Tony Kadavil) 

Welcome to a new year! Thank God we have lived to see it! I have the privilege of accompanying you, if you wish, every day of this new year as we read the gospel passages together, like the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. Like us, those disciples had no idea what lay in store for them. Their minds were fixed on a disastrous past and a bleak future. But Jesus was walking beside them, talking with them, drawing out their fears: he was nearer than they could ever have imagined. “Did not our hearts burn within us as he talked with us on the road?” (Luke 24:32). We know only one thing about the future: the Jesus will walk with us, no matter what happens.

Mary too will walk with us. It is appropriate to have a mother to accompany our first steps. January 1st is always her feast. Her title, ‘Mother of God, affirms equally the humanity and the divinity of Jesus.  

The Nestorians – followers of Nestorius, the 5th-century archbishop of Constantinople – said that Christ was two persons: the man Jesus and the divine Son of God. This view was condemned at the Council of Ephesus (431 AD), which insisted that he was one person with two natures, divine and human. The most emphatic way they could say this was to affirm that Mary was not just the mother of the man Jesus, but that she was the mother of God. This was to say that Christ was one person, not two. The word used was ‘Theotokos’ (Greek for ‘God-bearer’). The Council of Chalcedon (451 A.D.) continued the use of this term, and it has become orthodox Christian teaching. Note that it is more a statement about Christ than about Mary – or rather, equally so. Icons of the ‘Theotokos’ are common now in the West.

In a sense, when a child is born a mother is born. When a child is born, its mother begins to be a mother. Even if she was already mother to other children this new child makes her a new mother; a new chapter in her mothering begins. In the birth of the Son of God, Mary begins to be the Mother of God. When a Child is born, a Mother is born.
 
1.     Fr John Speekman 

Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21 

One of the things I love about the Catholic Church is her courage when it comes to speaking of Mary. Protestantism is timid in speaking of her but Catholicism never baulks. The Church will confidently give to Mary all her titles and will speak of all her prerogatives as she deserves. 

I'll never forget the raised eyebrows of a pastor friend of mine when he read in one of the books on my shelf that Mary was 'the mother of our salvation'. Well, Jesus is our salvation and she is his mother, so she deserves to be called: Mother of our Salvation!

Every serious-minded Catholic has a love for Mary. We readily speak of her as the Mother of God, the mother of Jesus, and our mother too.

Firstly, we know that she is the Mother of Jesus. We have just finished celebrating Christmas which is not only the feast of the birth of our Saviour but also of his birth from Mary. 

Secondly, we know that she became our Mother at the foot of the Cross when seeing her and John standing at the foot of the Cross Jesus said to her: Woman, this is your son. 

The Church has always believed that, at that moment, Jesus confided all humanity into the care of his Mother. 

Protestant Christians maintain the we Catholics are misreading Sacred Scripture when we claim Jesus gave us all to Mary. They say he was just making sure she was going to be looked after. 

Well, there are two things about this:
  • Why, then, did he give John to Mary first? He said Woman, this is your son - only then did he say: This is your mother.
  • And then, why would he want to make sure she would be looked after if, as Protestants say, she had all these other children, the 'brothers and sisters' of Jesus?
Thirdly, we have the greatest of all Mary’s titles, given to her officially at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD – Mother of God. 

To put it simply - Mary is the Mother of God because Jesus is God and she is his mother. 

Mary did not just give birth to the human nature of Jesus but to the entire Jesus. Mother’s don’t give birth to 'bits' of their children but to the whole person of their child – body and soul. 

Mary is not the ‘author’ or ‘creator’ of Jesus’ divinity, but she is the mother of a child who was human and divine in one single person. 

So Mary can rightfully be called Mother of God and so she was, from earliest Christian times. It is a title given to her by God’s generosity towards her and towards the human race to which she belongs. 

2.     Rev David Rider 

Purpose: The desire for peace is the strongest desire of every human heart, a desire which coincides with the desire for a full, happy, satisfied human life.

If you ever have the chance to visit the Basilica of Our Lady Help of Christians in the northern Italian city of Turin, toward the back of the church you will find a painting depicting a famous dream of the basilica’s builder, St. John Bosco.  At the center of the painting is a great flagship in the midst of a ferocious battle at sea.  The ship is surrounded by a large enemy fleet bombarding it with cannon balls and incendiary bombs, and ramming their sharp prows into its side.  A man dressed in white stands at the tip of the ship’s bow attempting to guide it safely to the shore.  Separated by a distance equal to the width of the ship are two tall pillars through which the ship must pass to arrive at the shore.  On the top of one of the pillars is an image of Mary with the words “Help of Christians” written below; on the top of the other is a large white communion host, with the words, “Salvation of the Faithful” beneath it.  Each time an enemy ship succeeds in creating a gash in the side of the flagship a breeze arriving from the pillars patches up the hole.  At one point, according to the text of the dream, the captain in white falls down wounded and dies, and the men in the enemy ships cheer and rejoice.  Almost right away, however, the other men on the flagship elect a new captain, also dressed in white, who rises up immediately to continue to guide the ship to safety.  The battle continues to rage fiercely, but the new captain succeeds in steering the ship between the two pillars, bringing it into port.  As soon as it is anchored to the two columns all of the enemy ships that had fought against it flee away, colliding against each other and breaking to pieces.  Suddenly, the waters are still and a great calm reigns over the sea. 

Contained within this painting are images similar to those which the Church proposes today for our contemplation as we celebrate the solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, which coincides with the World Day of Peace, and comes at the conclusion of the octave of Christmas.  St. John Bosco, a man gifted with many prophetic dreams during his life, saw the scene depicted in this painting one night in May of 1862.  He understood the flagship as an image of the Church, the captain in white as a symbol of the Holy Father, and the enemy ships as representative of enemies of the Church subjecting her to persecution.  The two pillars and the images resting on them represent the protection and help that Jesus and Mary provide the pilgrim Church on earth.  While maintaining the primacy of this interpretation, one could also make many comparisons between these images and the individual Christian’s experience of moving forward on his pilgrimage to eternity. 

As is the custom in our culture, many of us today are probably setting forth resolutions for the new year which we hope will facilitate our arrival at some goals we have established for ourselves.  If our ultimate goal is better health, maybe we have resolved to go to the gym more often or to quit smoking.  If our goal is improved relationships, perhaps we have resolved to call or visit family and friends more frequently, and to spend less time at the office.  While there may not seem to be much more to these goals than what meets the eye, what ultimately motivates each of them is really a deeper desire for peace.  The desire for peace is the strongest desire of every human heart, a desire which coincides with the desire for a full, happy, satisfied human life.  It is this promise of peace, announced by the angels, which drives the shepherds of today’s Gospel to Bethlehem, and it is this peace which the priests of the Israelites wished on their people as they blessed them with the prayer that we heard in the first reading, “The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!”  On this World Day of Peace, as we take a critical look at our lives, and seek to establish our agenda for the upcoming year, let us acknowledge our fundamental desire to experience within the stillness of the waters and calm of the sea with which the prophetic dream of St. John Bosco comes to its conclusion.  The desire for peace should be the starting point for any resolutions we make today. 

As believers, we have the great privilege of knowing where this peace that we are all looking for is to be found.  True peace is to be found in Jesus.  True peace is to be found in accepting into our hearts – with all of the implications of that act of welcome – the baby whose birth we celebrated just over a week ago.  In the Bible, we hear St. Paul say of Jesus, “He is our peace” (Eph 2:14).  Elsewhere he prays, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts” (Col 3:15).  In one of the more quoted lines from his pontificate, the soon to be canonized Pope John XXIII powerfully distinguished between those who accept Jesus into their hearts and have peace, and those who reject him and remain without it.  Speaking at the opening of the Second Vatican Council, he said, “The great problem confronting the world after almost 2,000 years remains unchanged.  Christ is … resplendent as the center of history and of life.  Men are either with Him … and then they enjoy light, goodness, order, and peace.  Or else they are without Him … and then they give rise to confusion, to bitterness in human relations, and to the constant danger of … wars.” 1  At the beginning of this new year, what better resolution to make than a resolution to deepen our relationship with Jesus, the Prince of Peace, in order to come closer to attaining that peace for which each of our hearts yearns? 

Speaking of Jesus in today’s second reading, St. Paul also makes a reference to Mary when he says that the Son of God came in the fullness of time, “born of a woman.”  Today, we celebrate Mary as theotokos, meaning “God-bearer,” one of the most ancient titles under which she has been honored throughout the centuries.  Celebrating Mary’s maternity of the Son of God calls to mind her other maternal roles as mother of the Church, and spiritual mother of all humanity.  As spiritual mother of all of humanity, Mary is our mother, and it is she who leads us to her Divine Son, constantly pointing the way to him.  As our Holy Father Emeritus, Pope Benedict XVI, said a few years ago when preaching on this solemnity, “Mary continually offers her mediation to the People of God, on pilgrimage through history towards eternity, just as she once offered it to the shepherds of Bethlehem.  She, who gave earthly life to the Son of God, continues to give human beings divine life, which is Jesus himself and his Holy Spirit.” 2  At the beginning of this year, we are invited to attend Mary’s school, to learn from her how to be faithful disciples of her Son and to open our hearts to the peace that he wants to give us. 

In the dream of St. John Bosco so vividly depicted by that painting in the basilica of Turin, the ship under attack arrives on land only after passing through two pillars bearing symbols of Jesus and Mary.  In our own Christian lives, the “enemy ships” of temptation, fear, anxiety, and doubt constantly threaten to prevent us from acquiring the peace for which we long.  Ultimately, however, these enemy ships will not prevail if we continue to steer our lives between Our Lady and Our Lord.  If, at the beginning of this year, we resolve to allow her to bring us to him, we will arrive at still waters and peace will reign over the sea of our hearts. 

3.     From the Connections: 

THE WORD:
In the Roman church, today’s solemnity is the oldest feast of Mary in the Church, honoring her by her first and primary title, “Mother of God.”

Jesus is given the name Yeshua – “The Lord saves.”  The rite of circumcision unites Mary’s child with the chosen people and makes him an heir to the promises God made to Abraham -- promises to be fulfilled in the Child himself. 

HOMILY POINTS:

Today we honor Mary under her most ancient title -- Theotokos, Bearer of God:  In accepting her role as mother of the Messiah, she becomes the first disciple of her Son, the first to embrace his Gospel of hope, compassion and reconciliation.

As Mary, the young unmarried pregnant girl, believes and trusts in the incredible thing that she is to be a part of, even the most ordinary of us can believe in our parts in the drama, too.

The God who makes all things new in Christ enables us to make this truly a new year for each one of us -- a time for renewal and re-creation in the love of God, a time for making this year a year of peace in our lives and homes, a time for making this new year truly a “year of our Lord.”
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5. Fr. Munachi Ezheogu, cssp

The name "January" comes from the Roman god Janus, the god with two faces, one looking to the past and the other looking to the future. This is indeed a time to look back at the year that has just ended and to look forward to the new year ahead of us. How did I spend this one year of my life that has just passed? Did I use it to advance my goals and objectives in life? Did I use it to enhance the purpose of my existence? Could I have done better last year in the way I invested my time between the demands of work, family, friends and society, and the demands of my spiritual life? What things did I achieve last year and what did I fail to achieve? How can I consolidate the achievements of last year while reversing the failures and losses in this new year? Through soul searching questions like these we find that a review of the past year naturally leads to setting goals and resolutions for the new year.
There are people who tell you that there is no point making new year resolutions. Do not believe them. We must set goals and make resolutions as a necessary conclusion to our review of the past year. And we do need to review our lives from year to year because, as Socrates says, the unexamined life is not worth living.
Today's newspapers are full of individual and collective new year resolutions. Most of those, however, are not resolutions at all but only wishes. What is the difference between a resolution and a wish? A wish identifies a goal one wants to reach, a resolution specifies the steps one will take to reach it. A wish says this is where I want to be, a resolution says this is the road I will take, this is what I will do to get there. The wishful person says "I want to pass my exams this year" and the resolved person says "I will devote an extra hour to my studies everyday in order to pass my exams." The wishful person says "I will have more peace and love in my family this year" and the resolved person says "I will spend more time with my family at table instead of rushing off to the TV, so that we get to know and understand ourselves better." The wishful person says "I will live a life of union with God this year" and the resolved person says "I will set aside this time everyday to pray and hear God's word." The difference between wishing and resolving is: are we prepared to do what it takes to make our dreams come true, are we prepared to pay the price?
The gospel today presents Mary to us as a model of that new life in Christ that all of us wish for ourselves in the new year. There we see that Mary was prepared to do something to realize this goal. What did she do? We read that the shepherds, when they went to adore the Child Jesus in the manger, told all that the angels had said to them. "But Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart" (Luke 2:19). Again after the boy Jesus was found in the Temple, we are told that "His mother treasured all these things in her heart" (Luke 2:51). Mary was a woman who valued the word of God, who treasured it and made time to meditate and ponder it. It is true that the holiness of Mary is attributed to the grace of God, but this should not make us forget that she needed to make an effort in order to cooperate with the grace of God. She pondered the word of God in order to discern what God was saying to her at every stage in her life as the handmaid of God.
The two examples above of Mary pondering the word of God, namely, after the visit of the shepherds and after the finding in the temple, show that Mary found the word of God both in divine revelation (the angels' words to the shepherds) and in her own experiences (her encounter with her son in the temple). Similarly God speaks to us today through divine revelation (e.g. the Bible, the teaching and preaching of the Church) as well as through our personal experiences, if only we made time to reflect on them as Mary did.
Whatever the situation in which we find ourselves - a hardship, a disappointment, a decision to make - God has a solution, an answer that is right for us. We tell God about it in prayer but we also listen to what God has to tell us about it. Prayer is a conversation with God but sometimes all we do is pick up the phone, read out the list of our problems to God and drop the phone without listening to hear what God has to say to us. Let us today resolve to listen more to the voice of God, to treasure God's word and ponder it in our hearts. Then shall we be able to realize our new year resolution of a new life in union with God.
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ILLUSTRATIONS: 

1. Did you know that New Year's Day is the one holiday that is almost universal? It is the world's most observed holiday.  

I trust you've made your New Year's resolutions one of which is to be in worship each week. Well done for this first Sunday. I won't ask you if you've resolved to lose the weight you gained between Thanksgiving and Christmas, or if you're planning on joining a health club, or if you're going to run five miles a day. Five miles, by the way, is my total aggregate of a lifetime of running.  

The late Erma Bombeck made some memorable resolutions over the years:

1. I will go to no doctor whose office plants have died.
2. I'm going to follow my husband's suggestion to put a little excitement into my life by living within our budget.
3. I'm going to apply for a hardship scholarship to Weight Watchers.
4. I will never loan my car to anyone I have given birth to.
 

2. Joke writer Ed McManus has some words of comfort for those of us who are setting resolutions: "Don't worry about [keeping] those 2013 News Year's resolutions," he says. "You only have to deal with them until the end of February and then you can give them up for Lent." It sounds like he has been spying on some of us.

Resolutions are good, especially if there are changes we need to make in our lives. I heard about one poor guy who dialled his girlfriend and got the following recording: "I am not available right now, but thank you for caring enough to call. I am making some changes in my life. Please leave a message after the beep. If I do not return your call, you are one of the changes."

It's good to make changes, for the most part. As we are often reminded by our critics, our spouses or our children, none of us is perfect. In fact, some of us might have some deep regrets about the way we've lived our lives. 

3. Dr. Les Parrott tells about a guy in Fredericksburg, Virginia named Cliff Satterthwaite who helps people get rid of their regrets. Each New Year's Eve Mr. Satterthwaite sets up a booth there in Fredericksburg where those celebrating New Year's Eve can come for a moment of sober reflection. Put the emphasis on "sober" reflection. Those who come write their regrets on a scrap of paper, then they set a match to them and turn them to ashes in an adjacent canister. Literally, their regrets go up in smoke. At least, that's the general idea.  

We could do that. We could write our regrets on a piece of paper and bring them to the altar and watch them go up in smoke. That might be very therapeutic for some of us as we begin a new year. But our text for the day from the prologue to the Gospel of John puts the emphasis not on our past, but on our future. Not on our regrets, but on our possibilities....
 

4. Tom Ervin, Professor of Music at the University of Arizona was attending a conference for music teachers in New York. While at the conference he purchased a talking metronome. A metronome is a device for counting the beats in a song. Before Tom and his son boarded their flight home, Tom hefted his carry-on bag onto the security-check conveyor belt.

The security guard's eyes widened as he watched the monitor. He asked Tom what he had in the bag. Then the guard slowly pulled out of the bag this strange looking device, a six-by-three-inch black box covered with dials and switches. Other travellers, sensing trouble, vacated the area.

"It's a metronome," Tom replied weakly, as his son cringed in embarrassment. "It's a talking metronome," he insisted. "Look, I'll show you." He took the box and flipped a switch, realizing that he had no idea how it worked. "One . . . two . . . three . . . four," said the metronome in perfect time. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

As they gathered their belongings, Tom's son whispered, "Aren't you glad it didn't go 'four . . . three . . . two . . . one . . . '?" For the past few weeks we have been counting down the days until Christmas. Now we could count the hours until the dawning of a New Year. But we need to linger with Mary and Joseph for a little while longer, because what happened immediately after Christmas is a stark reminder of the world in which we live... 
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 6. Stay Focused! 

We sometimes miss the great opportunities of life because we get sidetracked. I once heard the tale of a talented and gifted bloodhound in England that started a hunt by chasing a full-grown male deer. During the chase a fox crossed his path, so he began now to chase the fox. A rabbit crossed his hunting path, so he began to chase the rabbit. After chasing the rabbit for a while, a tiny field mouse crossed his path, and he chased the mouse to the corner of a farmer's barn. The bloodhound had begun the hunt chasing a prized male deer for his master and wound up barking at a tiny mouse. It is a rare human being who can do three or four different things at a time--moving in different directions.  

The Apostle Paul knew his number one priority in life was to live his life to the honor and glory of God by preaching the Gospel. However, we know that Paul is not in a plush hotel room but in prison. He receives a report that all is not well at the Church in Philippi. His very life could be ended at any moment. And the list goes on. However, the Apostle Paul would not allow anything to cross his path that would deter him from his priority. Paul knew that his new life was a gift from God, not from the promises of humanity. His life was to be lived for his master. Nothing would sidetrack him of that priority!

 Eric S. Ritz
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 7. Living by the Calendar Instead of the Clock (New Year's)
 
"Leisure," from the Latin, means "to be free." Leisure is anything that restores you to peace while you are doing it. So, gardening, golf, reading, puzzles, and many other things can restore us to peace as we do them. Another cousin of leisure is the word "paragon." This little-used word means "the second thing that we do in life that keeps the first thing in tune." Hence, our work may draw energy from us, and we have then a "paragon," a leisure thing we do in order to restore us.  

Most often, to build toward leisure demands that we disassemble something else. In Thomas Moore's book Meditations, he tells of a pilgrim walking along a road. The pilgrim sees some men working on a stone building.  

"You look like a monk," the pilgrim said.
"I am that," said the monk.
"Who is that working on the abbey?"
"My monks. I'm the abbot."
"It's good to see a monastery going up," said the pilgrim.
"They're tearing it down," said the abbot.
"Whatever for?" asked the pilgrim.
"So we can see the sun rise at dawn," said the abbot. 
 

Richard A. Wing
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8. Who Needs Resolutions? We Need a Revolution!

Welcome to this New Year. I trust that one of your resolutions for this year is to be in worship every week. Good for you. That's one resolution you've kept for at least one week.
I heard about one poor fellow who decided to make only resolutions this year he could keep. He resolved to gain weight, to stop exercising, to read less and watch more TV, to procrastinate more, to quit giving money and time to charity, to not date any member of the cast of Baywatch, and to never make New Year's resolutions again.

Maybe he's onto something. Why torture ourselves when we never keep those resolutions more than a week anyway?


What we need, of course, is not another resolution, but a revolution. We need a turning point in our lives. Like the wise men of old we need to catch a glimpse of a guiding light, and we need to follow that light to a New Life in Christ.

King Duncan, www.Sermons.com
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9. Seven Resolutions

 I like a list of resolutions prepared by the Rev. Walter Schoedel. He calls them '7-UPS for the New Year.' No, this has nothing to do with the soft drink. These 7-UPS fall under the heading of attitudes and actions.

The first is WAKE UP--Begin the day with the Lord. It is His day. Rejoice in it.
The second is DRESS-UP--Put on a smile. It improves your looks. It says something about your attitude.
The third is SHUT-UP--Watch your tongue. Don't gossip. Say nice things. Learn to listen.
The fourth is STAND-UP--Take a stand for what you believe. Resist evil. Do good.
Five, LOOK-UP--Open your eyes to the Lord. After all, He is your only Savior.
Six, REACH-UP--Spend time in prayer with your adorations, confessions, thanksgivings and supplications to the Lord.

And finally, LIFT-UP--Be available to help those in need--serving, supporting, and sharing.

If you're going to make New Year's resolutions this year, let me suggest Rev. Schoedel's list.

Why do we bother to make New Year's resolutions in the first place? Why do we feel this need each January 1 to set new goals? Maybe it is because resolutions help us to identify our priorities. They answer the Question: how do I want to invest my time, energy, money, and talents in this New Year? The New Year reminds us that time is passing. It is up to each of us to maximize the potential of every moment.


 Walter Schoedel
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10. Keep Your Head Right 

Pastor Stephen Brown taught swimming and diving for a number of years. He tells about a young boy named Billy. Billy had watched so many professional divers and wanted so much to dive like them that he refused to take time to learn the basics. Time after time Brown tried to help Billy see that the most important thing about diving was to keep his head in the proper position. If his head entered the water properly, Brown explained, the rest of his body would enter the water properly--at least, more properly than it had been. Billy would dive into the pool, do a belly flop, and come up grinning, "Mr. Brown," he would shout, "were my feet together?"

"Billy, I don't care whether your feet were together or not," Brown shouted back. "Make sure your head is straight, then everything else will work out."

The next time Billy would stand on the edge of the pool and really concentrate. Then he would dive and, once again, make a mess of it. "Mr. Brown, were my hands together?"

"Billy," Brown would groan in frustration, "I'm going to get you a neck brace and weld it onto your head. For the hundredth time, if your head is right the rest of you will be right. If your head is wrong, the rest of you will be wrong."
And isn't that true in all of life? If our head is wrong, our marriage will probably suffer. If our head is wrong, our priorities will be fouled up. If our head is wrong, it may even affect our health in a negative way. God understands our distress and God seeks to make us new persons so that we can handle our distress more effectively.

 Stephen Brown, When Being Good Isn't Good Enough, Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers. Adapted by King Duncan
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11. Humor: Resolutions 

Wife to Spouse: "I don't want to brag, but here it is February and I've kept every one of my New Year's resolutions. I've kept them in a manila folder in the back of my desk!"

Orben's Current Comedy
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12. Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.

 Proverbs 27:1
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13. Getting Started 

Some of us make resolutions like one man, named George, I heard about recently. He said to a friend: "There's nothing like getting up at six in the morning, going for a run around the park, and taking a brisk shower before breakfast."

His friend Bob asked, "How long have you been doing this?"
George said: "I start tomorrow."
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14. Humor: 90 Days 

We're only two days away from the New Year, and I can feel the anticipation--or dread, depending on your point of view--growing.
I heard one guy say he already dreads the New Year. He said, "The holidays aren't quite over and already I'm about 90 days ahead on my calories and 90 days behind on my bills." Some of you can identify with him.
 

King Duncan