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Asking the clergy: What is your New Year's resolution?

The Venerable Mother Mary Garde, rector, Grace Episcopal Church, Riverhead:

Most of the time, my resolutions are things about my prayer life, my attempts at gardening and the dream of writing a novel. Now, for the last couple of years, the novel has sat on the back burner because there has't been time for a novel, except to read them. I don't know if things are going to be different this year. Like anyone who has done any gardening, this is going to be the year when it all comes together out in the yard. It may also be the year the yard harbors blight or a hailstorm comes. But I dream of the perfect garden. I also work toward it. My best efforts don't always come up to my dreams. The 6-inch seedlings don't always grow into the predicted 6-foot shrubs. Resolutions are like that perfect plant that you see when you look at the seed catalogs in January. As for my prayer resolution, the schedule a full-time pastor keeps is not nearly as quiet as they appear in the old Victorian novels - quiet days and time for contemplation and reading. The greatest gift that the church gives us is the offices of morning and evening prayer in the book of common prayer. It is easy to let life just push the practice of morning and evening prayer out of the way. But for the most part, I succeed in this one, unlike the gardening and the novel. I always renew that intent to keep up with morning and evening prayer. Those two offices give a kind of stability to your life when you don't have a lot of stability otherwise.

 

Pastor Jim Ryan, executive director, Lighthouse Mission, Bellport:

I'm not big on New Year's resolutions, but 2010 is a different story. As a Jesus freak, I'm stoked to find new, creative ways to tell more people about Jesus, the only God who can save us from our sins and welcome us into Heaven. While on earth, Jesus prayed "Father, I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do" (John 17:4). As followers of Jesus living in New York, we can get so caught up in the busyness of life, we forget what our real, God-given purpose is: to share the love, grace and truth of God. This truth is found in a person, Jesus Christ, who said, "I have come that you might have life and have it to the fullest," John 10:10. (So, remember John 10:10 in 2010!)

 

Pastor Scott Kraniak, Centereach Bible Church:

First, as a Christian I have learned to not promise things that I can't really be sure of fulfilling. So, this will be not a promise to God but an attitude of trying harder. With that said - my resolution is an easy one, just look around. With all the fear and uncertainty out there, there has never been such a time as this to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. All we hear is bad news and troubles. We have been made so many promises, yet we are quickly learning that no one can really be depended on to keep them. So, this year I will try as hard as I can to proclaim this one message, Psalm 118: 8-9. "It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in princes." And, 2 Chronicles 7:14 says it best: "If we want our land healed, we must repent and turn back to the only one who can do it," the Lord Jesus Christ himself.

 

Rabbi Philip Weintraub, South Baldwin Jewish Center, Baldwin:

A New Year's resolution is so often an ephemeral thing. It is conceived with the best of intentions but so often is dropped within days or weeks. For me, I have the additional disincentive that while much of life revolves around the secular calendar, the sacred New Year began in September, when Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, was celebrated. Traditionally, at that time, we are judged to determine if we will live for another year, whether through our actions and choices we write ourselves in the book of life (or not). While the image of a judging God may not be acceptable to today's people, the idea that we are the engine of our fate is still a popular idea! Not just at that moment, but at every moment, we have the opportunity to choose our fate. How do we eat, sleep, make our business deals, talk to our friends/family/loved ones/ strangers? Yet, even as we make all of those choices, if we make one we regret, we are also able to do tshuva, to return to God and our true selves. Maimonides, a 12th century Jewish philosopher, legal scholar and medical doctor, reminds us that we are forbidden to remind a repentant sinner of her past deeds. Once we have truly changed our ways, we are no longer the person we were before. We are considered to be a new person. In short, my New Year's resolution is to continue this process. I want to continue to re-evaluate my actions and make sure that I am being the best me I can be.

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