People of faith share what they hope happens in the new year.
New years are times for resolutions, a commitment to change individually or become more responsible in our actions.
New Year’s resolutions have a long history; ancient Romans sought forgiveness from their enemies. So-called “Jubilee Years,” usually marked by the beginning of new decades or centuries, seek to erase accumulated debts. In the Jewish calendar, Rosh Hashanah ushers in a period of introspection and atonement.
When it comes to personal resolutions, follow-through is often difficult. The Web site Quirkology reports that the success rate for New Year’s resolutions is only 12 percent.
We recently asked a number of religious leaders, students and personalities from around the area about their hopes, prayers and wishes — their resolve — for the coming new year.
From renewed attention in our care for the planet and pleas for world peace to how our individual purchases affect a global economy, people weighed in. There are hopes of turning back toward God’s words in the Bible and hopes that communities — church families — can take the initiative of addressing society’s most devastating problems.
Some of these hopes might be far-flung and familiar — what the Rev. Jeff Chitwood calls “Miss America contest-speak” — but hope is in the eye of the beholder. And it just might begin with one simple effort, suggests the Rev. Paul Olson, “to greet each day with joy and thanksgiving.”
Jeremiah Beck, station manager of Christian radio station WIBI-FM, and co-host of “A Positive Start to your Day”In 2010, I believe that more Christ followers will stop saying, “Someone should do something about (whatever issue is important to them)” and start saying, “My church family and I are going to do something about it starting now.” Let’s change the world for one person at a time, believe that God will be the answer for the things we can’t fix, and be thankful for our American freedom that allows us to live our faith out loud.
In 2010, I would love to see every single person take the initiative to help one other person who will never be able to pay them back for their kindness.
Lori Brown, co-host of “A Positive Start to your Day” on Christian radio station WIBI-FM
In light of the United Nations Climate Change Conference earlier this month in Copenhagen, Denmark, I would like to see the citizens of this country take a more active role in care-of-the-earth practices. Even for those who disagree with the principles of global warming, there needs to be a conscientious effort made to understand the stewardship of our Earth for the sake of future generations.
Bishop Warren D. Freiheit, Central/Southern Illinois Synod, Evangelical Church in America (ELCA)
Sister Marcelline Koch, O.P., Springfield Dominican communityJesus came to be one of us with the message to love one another and love our enemies. My hope is that all persons can live out of that invitation, that command. Start with taking these words seriously and not just as nice platitudes. Examine what this loving means in very practical terms. Join with others who believe in the power and possibility of these words. Expand one’s circle of “other” beyond family and country to those we see as “them,” not like us. Let the circle include all the other-than-human in creation.
The Rev. John Stanton, pastor, Springfield Seventh-day Adventist ChurchMy wish for the new year is that our Springfield communities would experience a new desire for reading and studying the Bible. It’s easy to fall into the habit of learning what we know about God from our own thoughts, feelings and traditions — or worse by accepting as gospel truth the opinions of another. Get to know God personally by letting Him speak to you through His word.
Sam Shepherd, junior, Sacred Heart-Griffin High SchoolOne particular thing I would like to see happen in 2010 is to get the health care reform bill passed with a public option. To me, this is one of the biggest issues in the United States today. For a variety of reasons, there are approximately 46 million citizens who do not have health care insurance in this country. The private health insurance companies have tripled the cost of coverage in the last 10 years, and without the competition of a public option, the cost will continue to rise. An estimated 18,000 people will die this year because they cannot afford health care. It is time to act.
Steve Seiple, executive pastor, Hope Evangelical Free ChurchMy prayer for 2010 is that my church, Hope Evangelical Free Church, and other churches in Springfield will be a valuable resource in our city and state, and that we will boldly and effectively deliver a message of hope and encouragement to a community facing serious economic challenges. We can do this by supporting those who are suffering; partnering with government and community leaders to search for solutions, not with a political agenda but, with grace and humility, offering a perspective that we can trust a God who is bigger than our problems; and keeping our doors wide open to offer not “religion” but the kind of meaningful and purpose-filled life that comes from a relationship with God.
The Rev. Paul J. Olson, pastor, St. John’s Lutheran Church (ELCA), Springfield
My hopes for 2010:To greet each day with joy and thanksgiving; To see in each human life the reflection of God To live with confidence that God is in control To reflect the hope that is given in Christ That human services in Illinois receive adequate and appropriate funding That governmental leaders place their priority on people That the sorrow of war and violence — domestic and foreign — be abated.
The Rev. Martin Woulfe, minister, Abraham Lincoln Unitarian Universalist CongregationI will seek to bring the consequences of my behaviors into sharper focus — dare I say resolution? For example, I cannot ignore that the use of money is simultaneously an exercise of power and a spiritual act. Like many insights, this has not been always been faithfully translated by me into action due to a lack of focus and discipline. I will seek to be more consistent whenever I proverbially open my wallet by asking two pertinent questions: Who might be harmed? Who am I neglecting?
David Garvey, senior, Sacred Heart-Griffin High SchoolIn 2010, I would most like to see progress in Afghanistan. We need to put pressure on President Hamid Karzai to fight corruption in his government so he will bring stability to his country and be a respected leader of the military who are being trained by U.S. forces. I would like to see our military continue its efforts to provide educational opportunities to the Afghan children, following the model of Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea.” Afghanistan is in trouble and needs our help to build a strong, independent nation so our military can begin returning home by the target date of 2011.
What would I like to see happen in 2010? That’s easy — world peace, elimination of poverty and affordable health care. Other than that, nothing much. Kind of sounds like a Miss America contest or a political speech doesn’t it? The goals are genuine but so far out of reach for the individual that they have simply become cliches. I don’t want to dismiss the goals. Why not just bring them down to an attainable level? What if, in 2010, every person would simply treat others the way they would like to be treated? If everyone did that, we might just be surprised how we might eliminate some cliches in this life.
The Rev. Jeff Chitwood, senior minister, South Side Christian Church
Steven Spearie can be reached at 217-622-1788 or email@example.com.
Springfield (Ill.) State Journal-Register