We joined together on Christmas Eve for worship services, and I introduced the idea that I don't need any elf on the shelf, I have better things to keep me good,
First, I have "Darth Vader on a Radiator." Why does this keep me good? Think of Darth Vader's favorite quote: "Luke, I am your father." Well, I have a Heavenly Father who loves me, and because he loves me, I want to be good.
I also have a "Cop on a Mop." Good police offices help to teach us right from wrong, and when we make a mess of our lives, help us to clean it up. To me, that's Jesus! I don't need any elf on a shelf, I have Jesus to help me be good, and then get the mess cleaned up when I mess up.
No elf on a shelf for me! I have a "Bird on the Word," the Holy Spirit!
No elf on the shelf for me, I have, "A Pup on a Cup!" And this is our sacraments given to us to remind us of God's love.
It's New Year's Day, and the idea of making a, "New Year's Resolution," has become a joke. Many people make them, but few ever follow through...and for a variety of reasons. Most resolutions are overly idealistic, made on the basis of ignorance for what we think we need to be doing based on someone else's expectations, i.e., we need to lose weight, get better organized, start a savings account for retirement.
I prefer the concept of renewal rather than resolutions. Renewal does not set you up for failure if you can't stay on a diet or find yourself better organized. Renewal does not wallow in guilt for infractions, it merely pushes the, "RESET," button and gives it another shot.
Renewal means we are always a work in progress, taking three steps forward and incuring two steps back as we relapse, but rather than giving us permission to give up, renewal calls us to restore our initial hope, to replenish our original vision, to reestablish and recover that vision that moved us to improve our situation in the first place. Renewal is about perseverance, both in an existential sense and a theological reality.
Renewal is the ultimate, "Mulligan," for those of us who don't play golf, unless you're playing with some of those ruthless colleagues in ministry who invite me out to be the patsy. There is no mercy amongst ministers!
Renewal won't let us give up. A quote attributed to Pope John XXIII sums up my ideal defintion of renewal, and encourages me to keep on going:
"Consult not your fears,
but your hopes and dreams.
Think not about your frustrations,
but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed,
but with what is still possible for you to do."
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Grant F. C. Gillard writes from Jackson, Missouri, where he pastors the First Presbyterian Church and tends around 200 bee hives.