I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, if only for the simple fact that they are usually a recipe for ambivalence and disillusionment at best, and will often even tend towards disappointment and fantasy. It is a fantasy to believe that I can look inside of myself and muster the inner resources to re-solve the problem that prompts the resolution. (Cue the halting echo of John Berryman: “I conclude now I have no inner resources.”)
The gospel, as it says anything, declares that we cannot re-solve the problems of being human by going inside and trying again. Did you ever play Bop It? We actually got one as a wedding present(!): “Do it again, but, but better!”
Psalm 50 speaks with impressive authority of remarkable realities. “The Mighty One, God the Lord, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting” (Ps. 50:1). From the span of our days, from birth to death, from January 1 to December 31, God the Lord speaks and calls us as his creatures to attention. It is an evocation to worship, to attend to the way things are actually.
“Our God comes; he does not keep silence” (Ps. 50:3). It is the nature of God to speak—he does not keep silence. And in his speaking, he comes. And in his coming, he clarifies to us who we are, who he is, and what he has done, is doing, and will do. God speaking is God acting, for as he speaks, that of which he speaks comes into being: his word is active and is very near you.
And so God speaks: “’Hear, O my people, and I will speak; O Israel, I will testify against you. I am God, your God’” (Ps. 50:7). The testimony of God is first a word against us, against our forgetfulness that we are creatures and he alone is the creator. Hear, and I will speak; I will speak, and you will hear. I am God, your God. (We need him to be our God!) There is no resolution, no re-solution, no inner resources, no get-up-and-do-it-again, no do-it-again-but-better.
The psalm ends: “’Mark this, then, you who forget God . . . to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!’” (Ps. 50:22-23) As God tells us who we are (creatures who forget that God is God and we are not), he orders our way: the relationship between God and us is restored.
There really is a solution to the impenetrable problem of being human, and it is not a re-solution. It is a one-time-for-all solution—it is the salvation of God, his movement to us to save us from ourselves.
This is all good news! The gospel proclaims that the old has gone, the new has come! I once was, but now am! As one year passes and another begins, mark this, then, mark this: God comes and God speaks, God speaks and God creates.
As God creates, he does not re-solve with a repair of the old, he creates anew. This is the Easter hope, each day of each year. Thanks be to God.
Gil Kracke is Director of Adult Education and Licensed Counselor at the Cathedral Church of the Advent in Birmingham, Alabama.