Every year, people make lots of New Year’s Resolutions to improve some aspect of their lives. Many involve efforts to be more healthy, by losing weight, for example, or quitting smoking, or getting more exercise. Others may try to improve their minds by reading more books. But, have you thought about improving your spiritual life?
There are many resolutions that one could make to try to deepen one’s faith. Simple ones include resolving to set aside a time for regular prayer, resolving to participate more actively in the life of the church, or resolving to read the Bible more.
Every year, folks also warn us that New Year’s Resolutions tend to be more successful if we make a plan on how to accomplish them, and seek out help in doing so. For example, “read more books” is a vague resolution. But, when I resolved to do something concrete – like “finish at least one book a month” and keep a list of the results – I discovered that I actually felt like I was accomplishing my goal, and didn’t get as frustrated. Likewise, a resolution to “get more exercise” is more likely to succeed if it is done with others, for example, going for walks with neighbors on a regular basis, or joining a fitness class with a friend. That provides the encouragement to keep going, as well as making the resolution a little more fun to keep.
The same is true for resolutions that aim to deepen a relationship with God. Reading the Bible, in particular, can seem really overwhelming. It’s easy to want to give up. One way to combat that is to follow a guide. At St. Paul’s, we have been using The Bible Challenge for several years. It provides a schedule that will allow anyone to read the entire Bible in one year, by breaking the Bible into chunks to read every day. It makes it seem more manageable. And, because the daily reading includes something from the Old Testament, something from the New Testament, and a psalm, those following along won’t get bogged down.
There are other helps, as well. One option find some other people and complete the Bible Challenge together. This will give everyone a chance to encourage each other. It’s also nice to be able to talk about what you are encountering as you complete the Challenge together – to chat about what you found meaningful, and what you found difficult. Like completing a marathon or any other challenge, it’s nice to know that you’re not alone. If your schedule does not allow you to do this with others, consider buying the book to accompany the Bible Challenge – it provides a reflection (written by a number of respected priests and figures from the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion) for every day’s reading, and will help make meaning of what might seem like confusing or strange passages.For more information on the Bible Challenge in general, including the schedule of readings (which can be started at any time), check out the Bible Challenge bulletin board in the parish hall. St. Paul’s will be organizing a few Bible Challenge groups – which will meet at different times of the week, based on everyone’s schedule. We might also provide a little context for the different books of the Bible as we encounter them. If you would like to be part of such a group, if you would like to purchase a copy of the Bible Challenge book, or if you would like to consider other strategies to deepen your faith in the new year, contact Rev. Michelle at [email protected], or 412-531-7153 x35.