devozine

For Youth Workers Post

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

Darren Wright

“In the Habit” session for use with devozine meditations for January 1–5, 2014.

MAKING THE CONNECTION

“A few years ago, my New Year’s resolution was to give up New Year’s resolutions. You might be surprised to hear that it was the only resolution I’ve kept. I’d previously attempted big-change resolutions, only to break my promises, knowing that even though this particular attempt failed, often dismally, I’d be able to try again next year.

“In 2011, Peter Rollins wrote: ‘Perhaps then, as we stand at the threshold of 2012, we should avoid making resolutions about undergoing some fundamental change and rather admit that we are likely to repeat many of the same situations we have before. But rather than giving up the possibility of change entirely we can do something. We can resolve to try and repeat the situations we keep creating in a different way. Reacting to the dilemmas we relive in a novel manner; one that opens up new, more liberating and enlivening possibilities.’ (New Years Resolutions: How to Change When Things Remain the Same)

“I think he’s hit on something. Perhaps, instead of constantly failing at massive change, we could attempt to ‘repeat the situations we keep creating in a different way.’ As people of faith, we are people of the now and the not-yet; we are always moving toward the kingdom, always failing, and then struggling again.

“One of the myths of the New Year’s resolution is that we only need to make one change each year. If we all agreed to continue the struggle toward the not-yet, we might find our world moving with us.

“This particular session will allow some time to think about resolutions, as well as time to say goodbye to the year past.” —Darren

 

MEET THE WRITER

Darren WrightDarren Wright is a Uniting Church Youth Worker, serving in the Riverina Presbytery in New South Wales, Australia, as the Presbytery Youth and Children’s Ministry Worker. Darren has previously worked in congregational ministry, high school chaplaincy, and local government as a youth worker. He has also been a petrol station attendant, supermarket employee, dairy manager, and furniture salesperson. His interests include music (Moby, Radiohead, Ben Harper, The National, Muse, All India Radio), film (MegaMind, Harry Potter, How to Train your Dragon, Scott Pilgrim, The Avengers), TV (Chuck, Doctor Who, Big Bang Theory, Community), theology, pop-culture, and working with young people in at-risk areas. He is particularly interested in how the church and theology connect with pop culture. Check out Darren’s blog.

 

STUFF YOU WILL NEED

  • 12 sheets of paper, size A3 (11×17) or larger, with the name of a month (January, February, and so on) written in the center of each. As an alternative, blow up balloons and write on them the names of the months.
  • 2 extra sheets of paper, one labeled “promises kept,” the other labeled “promises broken”
  • markers or pens
  • magazines and newspaper articles about major stories of the past year
  • photographs of members of your group from the past year
  • ambient music (perhaps some All India Radio or Moby)
  • candle and matches
  • a loaf of bread
  • a pitcher of grape juice
  • bowl of water
  • Bible
  • towels
  • a bowl containing fragrant oil (olive oil will do)
  • copies of the liturgy in the “Sharing in Word and Prayer” section below

 

CHECKING IN

Light a candle in the center of the room. As people arrive, welcome them. Provide some tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and cookies or cake.

Place around the room the 14 sheets of paper with the months and the phrases “promises kept” and “promises broken” written on them, as well as photos and news articles from the past year that will spark memories. Perhaps you have pictures of a community retreat or a special celebration or photos of close friends to whom you have said goodbye during the year. Include articles or photos about international and national events also.

Invite group members to wander around the room and to remember the year gone by. Play some background music if you like.

Invite people to illustrate or express their memories from the past year by drawing or writing on the paper designated for each month. Memories may include, for example, situations they enjoyed, people they grieved, and events they celebrated. Be sure they also consider promises made and promises broken. Perhaps they can remember resolutions made at the beginning of the year; some people may have stuck with these while others did not.

As people finish, invite them to spend some time reading one another’s memories of the year.

 

SHARING IN WORD AND PRAYER

Scripture: Romans 8:1–3

Collect all the sheets of paper from the months of the last year and make a stack of them on the table. Light a candle. Place it in the center of the table surrounded by a loaf of bread, a pitcher of grape juice, a bowl of water, towels, a bowl containing fragrant oil, and a Bible.

Bring the group together, asking people to sit in a circle around the table.

Distribute the 14 papers with the months and memories written on them, and explain that people will fold these papers during the liturgy that follows. Lead the group by reading aloud the liturgy below and inviting people to participate as indicated:

REMEMBERING THE YEAR PAST

       This is the year that was.
       We have enjoyed it.
       We have endured it.
       We have lived it.
       These events have been our life for the last twelve months.
       We cannot live in the past;
              but we cannot—we may not—forget the past.
       We must remember the past
              and take the past with us into the future.

       We fold these records the first time,
              and we thank God the Father for being with us in 2017.
              (Invite group members to fold the papers in half.)
       We fold these records a second time,
              and we thank God the Son for being with us at this moment.
              (Invite group members to fold the papers in half again.)
       We fold these records a third time,
              and we thank God the Spirit for promising to remain with us.
              (Invite group members to fold the papers in half a third time.)

       Now we pack up our provisions for the future.
       We take the past with us to learn from it and to grow from it.
              (Invite group members to pass the folded papers around the circle.)
       We take with us the light of Christ.
              (Encourage group members to pass the candle around the circle.)
       We also take with us the provisions that Christ gave us for the journey.
              (Pass the bread and grape juice around the circle.)

       As we move into the new year, we will each splash our faces with water
              as a symbol that God washes us clean
              so that we begin each day and each year anew.

       We will wash our own faces
              as a symbol of the decision we make as individuals to enter into a new year.
              (Invite people to splash their faces with water from the bowl on the table.)

       We will have our faces dried by another person
              as a symbol that we cannot make it on our own
              and that we need one another in the community of faith.
              (Invite each person to use a towel to dry the face of another person.)

       We will receive a sign of God’s blessing.
              (Invite each person to dip an index finger in the oil and to make the sign of the cross on another person’s forehead.)


MOVING ON

       The year 2017 is finished.

       We carry the year with us—both the good and the bad—into the new year.

        God, teach us from the events of this past year how to follow you
              and how to be the people that you are calling us to be.

              (Invite group members to stand up; to pick up the bread, the juice, the water, the Bible, the candle, the oil, and the papers with the months and the memories written on them; and to go for a silent walk around the room and then outside. Continue the liturgy when everyone is outside.)


WELCOMING THE NEW YEAR

        This is God’s word for us:
       “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh” (Romans 8:1–3, NRSV).

       We enter this new year as free and forgiven people.
       We remember our past, but we are not condemned by it.
       This is a new year, and we are able to enter it as new people.
       This new year is a blank screen we can fill.

       God, as we go into this new year.
              remind us that whatever comes in the new year,
              you have called us to be your people. Amen.

—from devozine In the Habit (January/February 2014). Copyright © 2013 by The Upper Room®. All rights reserved.

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