There’s nothing magic about January 1, but we can imbue this new start with meaning. How will you tend to your spiritual needs this year?
Once you decide, be specific with your intention. Be doubly specific about what you’ll do when you inevitably fall down.
Most important: remember why you’re making this resolution. The idea is not to look like a “better Christian” (whatever that would mean!), or check a box on a list, or be perfect. Get in touch with your desire to deepen your relationship with Christ, then ask God for guidance about how to do so.
Feed Jesus’ Lambs
Loving for our neighbors is a spiritual practice (John 21:15), as is caring for God’s creation (Genesis 2:15). Consider committing to a new way of feeding Jesus’ lambs:
To care for God’s creation, pledge to minimize your plastic consumption, or take steps to reduce your carbon footprint.
Jesus teaches us to care for people society forgets (Matthew 25:31-46). Is there somewhere you can volunteer, or someone who needs some of your income more than you do?
In Christ, there is no race, no gender (Galatians 3:26-28), but we’re shackled by the prejudices our world holds up as truth. How will you commit to dismantling the racism (and homophobia, sexism, ableism, ageism, etc.) that our culture has inculcated in us?
Read the Bible
The Bible is a library of writing about the relationship between God and God’s people—it’s a book about you. How much of it have you read? Consider committing to reading the whole Bible this year; that may sound like a lot, but some people do it annually! If that’s too much, make a commitment that feels life-giving.
I recommend The Bible Challenge, a book by a priest in our diocese, the Rev. Marek Zabriskie. It helps you read the Bible in a year, with meditations by spiritual leaders and biblical scholars.
Start a New Type of Prayer
Is your prayer life still feeding you? Or maybe you’re starting from scratch. Prayer is the way we deepen our relationship with God. Here are a couple places to start.
The Daily Office is one of the best parts of our Episcopal heritage. Start your day with Morning Prayer or take a quick prayer break at lunchtime with Noonday Prayer. Here’s a tutorial to get started. (If you need the Book of Common Prayer, get in touch with us to “adopt a prayer book” during COVID.)
Contemplative prayer is the practice of sitting comfortably in God’s presence. I recommend Cynthia Bourgeault’s Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, or this short guide.
The Ignatian examen keeps us mindful of God’s presence in our daily life. It’s a simple but powerful practice. Here's a getting started guide.
Create a Rule of Life
The rule of life comes from monastic communities, wherein people commit to live in a particular way. Don’t think of it as “rules” like “no running in the hallway.” Instead, think of the Latin word regula (a ruler). What is the ruler by which you can measure your life? I can’t think of a better ruler than a close relationship with God.
I recommend the Society of St. John the Evangelist’s Growing a Rule of Life. It’s a free six-week set of reflections and activities to help you discern and build your rule of life.