This January 3rd marks the first Sunday of the New Year. I am not inclined to make New Year’s resolutions. But I do try to make New Year’s course corrections.
A few weeks ago a person came up to me after church. I noticed them arriving about 5 minutes before the service ended. Afterwards they said to me. “Thank God I got here before the service was over. I’ve had an awful morning, but just being here for the final prayer and hymn, and being here with my church family helps me so much!”
I have learned over the years that small steps are often much more successful than huge ones. If I decide to do some exercise every day, even if it turns out to be five minutes rather than sixty. Over the course of a year even those 5 minutes help.
The same is true about our religious life. For many years Christians have known that real spiritual growth takes two conversions and two disciplines. We must be converted to Christ from whatever else we make more important than Jesus. That is how we begin to live out the first great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, and soul.”
Second we must be converted to the Church, because it is there that we learn to love others the way God loves them, and learn to love ourselves because God commands us to love ourselves! This is the place where we gain the knowledge and skill and the power to live out the second great commandment: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”
Practically this means that you will have much more success in developing a deeper relationship with God if you take the small steps each day. Pray for at five minutes a day. Come to one church service a week on Wednesday or Sunday. If you miss a week, come the next week, rather than letting guilt keep you away. If you’re going to be late, trust me, worship is one place where better late than never is always true.
Much love and best hopes and prayers for 2016 – Fr. Paul