As the new year gets underway in earnest, there are all sorts of articles and suggestions on the sort of resolutions one should make.
How to work better.
How to live healthier.
How to be a better person.
But what about religion or the life of the spirit? I couldn’t find one list that addressed this part of our lives.
Since I couldn’t find one, I decided to come up with my own. I hope it will remind us all of how religion, despite all its flaws, can make a positive impact on our lives and society.
▪ Do not let partisan politics get in the way of relationships with fellow congregants or the clergy. Today’s toxicity in politics runs the risk of becoming a lethal virus in the religious community. Volunteer leaders and clergy should work in partnership to increase dialogue and teach how religion advocates tolerance and acceptance of diverse perspectives. Clergy have a duty to speak on current events as long as the message is tied to Scriptural teaching. At the same time, preaching from the pulpit on moral issues that have a direct impact on political issues requires clergy to use good judgment. Clergy should also remember that the congregation sitting in the pews reflect diverse political viewpoints.
▪ The new tax laws may have a serious impact by diminishing charitable giving. Now is the time to maintain our commitments and generosity to our houses of worship. Can we work on creating a culture of philanthropic giving in our communities regardless of the effect of the tax laws?
▪ How about a two-minute segment of prayer each day? Consider a moment of silence, reciting a prayer or even writing something down from your thoughts? Pay attention to the life of the spirit. Take a moment out of your daily routine and be thankful for your health and for those we care about.
▪ Do something nice for someone once a day. Take the time to say a kind word or make a phone call to someone who could use cheering up. Do not expect a thank you or acknowledgment. You might even earn extra points upstairs by doing something anonymously. Is it possible that the inner satisfaction comes from doing something good for a person who never knows who performed the act?
▪ Commit to attend a worship service. Simply sit down without expecting to be entertained. Use the time to think, meditate, reflect or just relax and feel the vibe of the service. Trying a once a month practice can be healthy for one’s own state of body and mind.
▪ Pick a social justice project that lets you make our society a bit more humane. Work to feed the hungry. Protect animals who need love and adopt a dog or cat. Choose a cause to get behind and do what it takes to make our society better.
▪ Write a letter to God. Even if you don’t believe, sit down and put your thoughts down as if God was reading them. Ask yourself what you would like to say to the creator of the universe?
▪ Have the courage to say you are sorry to someone you have hurt, whether intentionally or not. Repairing relationships and healing old hurts is certainly part of what religion teaches. It comes under the category of repentance.
▪ Rise to the moral high ground when you’re in a dispute or argument. Religion should be teaching us how to look at faith and the big picture. Don’t let anger or animus eat you up emotionally and spiritually. When we do, we are simply hurting ourselves.
▪ Learn how to forgive. If someone is sincere and understands how they hurt us, commits to never doing it again and then asks for forgiveness, does that person deserve our forgiveness? Yes. Forgiveness is part of all religious traditions.
Now you’ve read my list. How about coming up with your own?
I hope that 2018 brings us closer to our Scriptural teachings, finds us respecting each other, committed to making a better world, and showing compassion for our neighbors.
We are all flawed.
But we all have the potential to raise ourselves to a higher spiritual plain.