Merry Christmas! (Yes, it still is Christmas!)

Published 10:05 am Friday, December 26, 2008

Yes, Christmas is over. Unless, of course, you follow the church calendar and know that today is only the second day of Christmas! We’ve got 10 more days to go until Epiphany — you know, of course, the carol “The 12 Days of Christmas.” So, even though your presents are opened and the turkey leftovers are in the freezer and maybe you’ve even tossed your tree to the curb, Christmas is not yet over. Let’s continue…

In this season, we reflect on the amazing gift of Jesus Christ to our world. We remember the sacrifices of the people who brought him safely into the world, who greeted his birth, who raised and nurtured him. We remember the people who — throughout his life — tried to hurt him and destroy his reputation and teachings. We remember the bravery of the people who continued to share his teachings and who captured not only the words of scriptures but the essence of his love. Most of all, we admire their resolve to accomplish their tasks.

Which brings us to our task: resolve. Most folks this time of year put in some time thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. What does the word “resolution” really mean? I checked out The Oxford American Dictionary to answer that question and was quite surprised at the variety of answers it provided! The word “resolution” originated in the late Middle English period from the medieval Latin word resolutivus, from resolvere which means “to loosen” or “to release.” This is quite contrary to most of my previous resolutions which were binding and controlling. Hmmmm.

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So, using the various “releasing” character of our resolutions, let’s see how we can change that attitude of domination into something we might more easily live with.

One. Most of us rely on the first definition when we are setting our thoughts on resolutions. That definition is this: a firm decision to do or not do something. Firm is good, because it is not rigid, it allows a little “give” so we can be forgiving of our lapses or circumstances. It is good, but there is more…

Two. “Therefore, be it resolved…” The second definition, according to the OAD is this: a formal expression of opinion or intention agreed on by a legislative body. The good news in this attitude is that the resolver is not alone. There is a support system of people all committed to making this decision work. They are united in the common goal of success. I can use that! No more feeling like I’m swimming upstream — use my community to accompany me as we strive together to win.

You know as well as I do that these legislative resolutions do not come about easily. There is a sub-level definition that fits here, too, and it related to the field of music. A resolution in music is “the passing of a discord into a concord during changing harmony.” I can see the discord across the aisles in our legislative bodies! We can hear it, too. But, just like in music, when a decision has been made and the goal is common, the arguing can resolve itself into reason. But remember, the music is all the sweeter because of harmony. Many voices with different perspectives which support and enhance the melody line. Use your back-up singers to your/their best advantage! Remember the way Jesus and his disciples — that motley crew — came together with the common goal of sharing the good news!

This leads right into the other sub-level definition of this legislative sort of resolution as it applies to medicine: the disappearance of inflammation. The fighting is over. Healing begins.

Three. I think this is the part of making New Year’s resolutions that sometimes bogs me down. In chemistry, the word “resolution” means this: the process of separating something into constituent parts or components. Whoo! This is the sticking point for those of us who put “dieting” on our resolution list. You can’t just put some lofty number on that goal. We have to remember to break it down into day by day, pound by pound, meal by meal components. Jesus looked at the sorrow and misery around him and went to work — one soul at a time — to bring comfort and joy.

Jesus trained his disciples to be strong in their abilities to teach. We are called upon to share our gifts, too, to “make disciples of all nations.” In the field of physics, this is the kind of resolution achieved by this: replacing a single force by two or more jointly equivalent to it. Break the large task down into do-able parts. And make the steps toward the goal concrete. A sub-level of the physics sub-level is this: the conversion of something abstract into another form. Make it real. Make the goal tangible. Put the goal into actual words. Visualize concretely. Imagine solid success. In the arena of prosody, resolution is achieved by this: the substitution of two short syllables for one long one. Think the Reader’s Digest version of your goal.

Four. Resolution may have been on your minds this shopping season as you considered “high definition” for your viewing pleasure. This fourth definition is this: the smallest interval measurable by a scientific instrument (esp. optical). It is the degree of a detail visible in a photographic or television image. To translate into our goal-setting: Can you see it? Are all the components visible? Can you bring the big picture into focus? Are you really ready to put yourself into the picture and play along?

You’ve got a few days yet to ponder the possibilities. Firm decisions. Harmony from the choir. Healing. Step-by-step resolve. Equal forces working together. Clear vision.

Use the words of the psalmist in your daily prayer as you commit yourself to “loosening” and “releasing” all that has kept you from truly expressing your whole being:

“Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!