On Faith: Not too late to begin again

The new year calls us to contemplate our lives, to reflect upon the past, and to make resolutions for how we will live into the future. By now, many of us have already broken our resolutions — eaten that dessert we said we wouldn't eat, slept through gym time, stayed that extra hour after work even when we promised to spend more time with the family, or smoked the last cigarette for the umpteenth time.

Or perhaps you have found yourself empowered by the first week of the new year, living into your hopes and dreams and seeing the budding fruits of your efforts: a pound lost, a chapter written, a movie watched, a book read, or an extra dollar saved! It is important to take these opportunities to check in and begin again if necessary. Congratulate yourself for the progress and forgive yourself for the setbacks.

After all, that's how God works. We've been given this incredible gift of life and the resolve to live it to its fullest. God offers us the energy to sustain us when we might doubt our own abilities. God rejoices with us in life's celebrations and mourns with us in life's disappointments.

When we find ourselves in situations where we fail to be all that God calls us to be, or all that we desire for ourselves, God offers us forgiveness. What if we were to tenderly show mercy and grace to ourselves and to each other each time we failed to live up to our resolutions of who we should be and what we should do? Ultimately, God calls us to live healthy and whole lives because this life is God's gift to us.

Last week Christians celebrated Epiphany . As the gospel of Matthew tells us, the wise men followed a star and arrived at the house of the baby Jesus bearing gifts. Their gifts were precious: gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gifts fit for a king.

What other gift could one imagine giving God? They could think of giving nothing but the best. Should we not do the same? What if God's gift to us is this life and what if this life is the very gift we give back to God? What better gift could we give? And so we are called to live into our best selves because this is the gift God has given us, and because it is the gift we give back in return. We are God's gift to the world. What an epiphany — our lives are the gifts! The greatest gifts imaginable!

So, if our lives are a gift given by God and "re-gifted" by us to God, perhaps we can resolve to make these gifts the very best they can be: holy, healthy, hopeful, happy, whole, merciful, faithful, dedicated, loved and loving, forgiven and forgiving, comforted and comforting, given and received. Resolutions are broken all the time, but perhaps this time, we will choose instead to forgive and begin again.

This is your year, and it begins today. Live this gift to its fullest.

REV. SARAH HALVERSON is the pastor at Fairview Community Church in Costa Mesa.

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