One of the great things about religious life is that it contains many seasons and special times and these give us the chance to start over, to begin again, many times. This week marks Christ the King Sunday and the end of the church year. Next week (Nov. 28) the journey of advent will begin. I know some folks set out to start new habits with New Years resolutions and basically everyone will fail to maintain those. I wonder if we might try using the most wonderful time of year to start a new habit. Imagine hitting January 1 with 30 days under your belt—that has to increase the odds of success right?
The good life, as christians throughout time have learned it, involves worshipping as part of a community, praying regularly (daily), and scripture reading (again daily). I am not sure how much more important one of these may be than the others, I do know that they reinforce each other in a holy abundance of interest. Pick up one and the others often follow.
I wonder if as the calendar approaches December this might be a good time for us to revive one of the three practices? We all fall away from them from time to time, though we love them and find them helpful the siren call of Netflix or sleeping in or social media is always getting in the way. No matter, it is a new beginning and we can take advantage of it. Whichever one sounds more fun, more life-giving, more interesting to you is the right one to try. My one piece of advice here is to give it a real go, to really try something out, to craft a habit often require 60 days, it also often requires identifying one practice to let go of (in order to create space or margin for the new).
Advent involves, if we study the bible, many comforting and familiar passages, if we gather to worship it involves many old familiar hymns/carols, and if we pray it may involve much prayer for peace, charity, and the like. These are all, in my experience, motivating. Can you pick one element to lean into this advent? There are many wonderful devotionals that will take you through the season, in truth there are many free ones that can be emailed to you or downloaded ahead of time, there are prayer calendars, and of course there are countless beautiful and rich worship services to attend.
Whatever you pick know that now is as good a time as any to pick up a new habit, and if you fail (as most of us will) there is always New Year’s Eve:)