AS we approach the New Year, we are encouraged by the media to reflect on the past year and to plan for the year ahead – and our plans may well take the form of “New Year resolutions."

For many people of faith, this process of reflection and planning becomes a form of prayer.

We pray to express our thankfulness for the good experiences of the past year – the love, the joy, the examples of devoted service during difficult times.

Sometimes, we pray for forgiveness: we think regretfully of our past failings, and we try to come to terms with these so that we can feel forgiven and live more purposefully.

Probably most often, our prayers are asking prayers -a mixture of concern, hope and aspiration for ourselves, our communities, and the world.

It is surely right that such prayers of aspiration should become resolutions:

inspiring us to do something about our concerns is an obvious way in which prayer is effective.

But the Gospel stories of Christmas are based on responsiveness rather than assertiveness.

Whatever plans Mary and Joseph may have had for their lives were thrown into disarray; yet they responded whole-heartedly to unforeseen challenges. Perhaps, in the context of climate change, a continuing pandemic and economic uncertainty, our resolutions need to be in that spirit.

Listing all the things we want to achieve may well be a recipe for failure; but a resolution to respond lovingly and positively whenever and wherever we can may be exactly what the world needs from us in 2022.

Alvene and John Costello

Carver Uniting Church