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New Year's Resolutions, Reading...and a Church's Vision

Each new year, I'm good at making, and getting a start on New Year's Resolutions. (I'm less good at, you know, actually keeping them...but that's another story.)
Last year, one of my resolutions was to read more. Since most of what I read is non-fiction -- in fact, one time when Elizabeth was little, she looked at my bookshelves and said, "it seems all you have are God books" - I decided to read more fiction in 2016.
So about this time last year, I made a list of some modern-but-classic (prize-winning) books of fiction that somehow I'd missed reading over the years, and bought them: Anne Tyler's Breathing Lessons, Walker Percy's The Moviegoer, Wallace Stegner's Angle of Repose (and later, on someone's recommendation, Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall).
The bad news is, I haven't gotten more than 30 pages into any one of those.
The good news is, I didn't borrow those books -- I bought them. They're right there on my writing desk where I see them, and where they beckon to me. (Further good news is, with them sitting right there, I don't have to make any new reading resolutions for 2017!)  
The best news - and the reason I mention all this -- is that I didn't need to get too far into Angle of Repose before running across this, one of Stegner's classic lines, which I wrote in my journal:  
"I would like to hear your life as you heard it, coming at you, instead of hearing it as I do, a sober sound of expectations reduced, desires blunted, hopes deferred or abandoned, chances lost, defeats accepted, griefs borne."
That, my brothers and sisters in Christ, is a large part of the reason we, as The Falls Church Episcopal, will, over the course of 2017, create a new 3-5 year vision for our parish: a  v ision is a powerful antidote to the condition Stegner describes. 

A 3-5 year vision lifts our eyes beyond the adrenaline-fueled urgencies of the day to the Holy Spirit-filled callings of the decade.
A 3-5 year vision keeps us thriving, growing, giving.
So - with apologies to Stegner, God willing and empowering, 
  • we will NOT listen to the "sober sound of expectations reduced," but instead will listen to the spirit-filled sound of raised expectations;
  • we will not accept "desires blunted" as a fact of life - not in our individual lives and certainly not in our church life - but will sharpen desires and lift them even higher;
  • any "hopes deferred or abandoned" - not just those of our faith community and our wider community, but of our nation will be addressed, and any within our power to affect, we'll revive and restore those hopes; and
  • any "chances lost, defeats accepted, and griefs borne" will be put to rest in the sure and certain hope of resurrection - not "resurrection" as a general principle, but in sure and certain hope of the resurrection of Christ, who restores all chances, conquers all defeats, and redeems all grief.
I do realize that the 3-5 year vision we put together will have some resolutions that - like my reading plan! - might not get fully realized. 

But vision plans aren't shelved. They are kept front and center where for the next four or so years they will beckon to us...remind us...and motivate us.


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