THE NEW YEAR OFFERS an opportunity to take stock of ourselves and our intentions for our own well-being. Radical attempts at self-reformation often end in frustration, including attempts to develop new spiritual habits. This month’s texts hold a up a series of mirrors in which we can assess ourselves and see perhaps that we do not need to be wholly reinvented. The Spirit who weaves through the early texts is present at creation and through the life of Jesus, and she remains to guide us.
Whatever the new year brings, we will not face it alone. In the second week, we have an opportunity to speak frankly about sexual misconduct or choose to preach different aspects of the lessons. The new year offers an opportunity to do the hard work of community, protect the vulnerable, and hold accountable those who violate sacred trust. We do so knowing the Spirit does not shrink from the subjects from which we shrink. She will be there with us through the difficult work. Likewise, the third week’s readings offer an opportunity to do the hard work of repenting and asking forgiveness before we try to be reconciled to those whom we have wronged. This is particularly important for people who hold power and in religious settings where pressure is often put on those who have been wronged to forgive before they have begun to heal from their injury—or while they are still being harmed. The final lections invite us to sit and stand in awe of God and treasure the knowledge that comes from those postures.