My New Year Resolution


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The tradition of New Year Resolutions never worked for me. I find them like pulling one final Christmas Cracker … Everyone has one, they look good, they make a bang, but have little on the inside and are quickly forgotten.

We watched Mrs Doubtfire yesterday.  Robin Williams being Robin Williams.  And there was a line something like: “Grown-ups’ problems are more complicated.”  (than children’s problems with simplistic childlike solutions)

Grown-up problems need grown-up solutions: a conditional sorry, a conditional hug, a conditional kind word, a conditional something that “fixes” … or perhaps to ignore the problem (in public) and seethe (in private).

(I did that over Christmas for a short while – I am pretty good at that “solution”)

On Christmas Day we had all been enchanted grown-ups when our 9 1/2 month old grandson tottered a little and then A LOT!!!  Being part of those first tentative steps is a gift without measure!  Back and forth he went with oodles of encouragement and love.  All us grown-ups entranced and enchanted!  Wow!

The “younger family” reacted differently.

This young totterer soon got in the way both emotionally and physically.  Tottering requires space AND the attention of every grown-up.  Tottering is what they “used to do”.  Now they run here and there, climb this and that, jump and scamper.   So – for a few short seconds – a new totterer is remarkable!   But all too soon a totterer becomes an obstacle.  A slow-moving roadblock.  A frustration.

“When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” Mark 10:14

When I was a child I saw darkly.  When I became a man I sought maturity.  I was told to put away childish things.  I was told to listen.  I was told how things worked around here.  I was taught to fit in.  How to be a good Christian.  How to “get things done”.  How to “volunteer”.  How to plan and prioritise and become a leader of men (and women).  To find and use my spiritual gifts.

To work for God.

But along the way I forgot to totter.  I forgot how wonder-full it is to see through the eyes of a child.  And I wonder if that – more than the complexity of cross and sin and salvation and grace freely given – is the real Christmas Story – the real wonder of the totterer we call Jesus.

“Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

I was taught the kingdom of God was after I am saved.  After my sins have been washed away by the blood of the cross.  After my “original sin gene” has been forgiven and airbrushed – and airbrushed – one prayer of confession after another.

“… do not hinder them …“

I wonder sometimes … does church hinder?

Does church prefer “grown-ups” with “problems that are complicated”?  Don’t we judge our maturity by our complexity (too complex to be understood by a child)?

The older I get the simpler life seems.  The less complex I need to be.  The simpler my “complex problems”.  The more attractive tottering becomes.  The less need for seeing “conditional”.  And more and more desire for “unconditional”.

“… for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Children have a real sense of “now” … of “being in the moment”.

And for me – more and more – that is where “the kingdom of God” is.  In the moment – in the now.  Now brings “unconditional” within my (immediate) grasp.  The moment makes it my choice to be “unconditional”.  Or my choice to choose the religiously acceptable “grown-up complexity”.

I was taught the church is outside of all this mere “shallow secular cultural stuff”.

More and more I wonder about that as well.

Because all too soon church will be lovingly airbrushing “that cross”.

Soon this birth will be the only reason for “that cross” (and the pain and death and torture and – “Praise be to God” – the resurrection)!  Life over death!  Death beaten by God!  And this baby will be forgotten.  A child put away until next Christmas.  Because being saved and washed in blood is where it’s at.

After my “original sin” gene has been forgiven and airbrushed one prayer of confession after another.  After we make the simple “complex”.  After we have taught the child to become a “mature Christian”.  

After we “hinder them” with the best of intentions?

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