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The ritual of setting New Year’s resolutions is a staple in our culture—a time when we examine the past 12 months and set intentions for the coming year. But it can also bring regret and cynicism as we realize we’ve set the same goals year after year with little progress: our debt and our waistline haven’t shrunk, we’re still as disorganized as ever, we struggle as always with the same old things.
Perhaps the secret lies less in gritting our teeth and willing ourselves to achieve some arbitrary standard of “success,” and more in the practice of opening ourselves to the God who makes all things new. Perhaps it is not so much an exercise in doing, but an exercise in seeing where God is already at work—an act of imagination more than willpower.
At Luther Seminary, we are deep in the process of re-imagining the role of theological education in an increasingly secular world, and re-thinking the core competencies faith leaders must possess to proclaim the gospel to a generation that has lost faith in traditional institutional structures. The same old resolutions won’t work. We must rely on the God of new life to open the way for us. It is frightening but exhilarating work, full of hope and promise.
Dutch Catholic priest, professor, writer and theologian Henri Nouwen said, “Imagine that we could live each day as a day full of promises. Imagine that we could walk through the new year always listening to a voice saying to us, ‘I have a gift for you and can’t wait for you to see it!’ … We must choose to listen to that voice, and every choice will open us a little more to discover the new life hidden in the moment, waiting eagerly to be born.”
We look forward to a year of discovery and innovation, and wish the same for you. Happy New Year!
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