Dear friends in Christ,
Our culture celebrates this Sunday as New Year’s Day. It is a time for new beginnings. A lot of
us launch ambitious projects to become new people with the blank page of the new year in
front of them: giving up alcohol, starting at a new gym, or learning to meditate.
The church meets culture and raises the stakes. In our liturgical year, January 1 is the Feast of
the Holy Name. We commemorate the day that Jesus was, in the Jewish tradition, formally
given his name by his parents. The heart of the celebration is identity. Holy Name digs a little
deeper than habits—not just what we want to do, but who we want to be.
As we move toward a new calendar year and a new liturgical season (Epiphany begins in a
week, on January 6), this question of identity is before us. How do we want to spend our time?
What kind of values do our choices reflect? What kind of person will our choices make us?
We all know that our habits changed over COVID. Some of the changes were small—the hand
sanitizer that is now always in my purse, the curbside pickup spaces at the store. But others are
more lasting and consequential. There was a significant dip in church attendance across all
denominations. When pushed to explain it, the best explanation that many researchers could
find was simply habit. People lost the rhythm of worshipping together.
In this moment of discernment, I invite you to reflect on the habits that shape you and to be
intentional about practicing them. This process is about more than joining a gym. How can you
structure your life to be the person that you want to be?
Dig deep for your real desire. Do you want to be more loving? Do you want to make a
difference in the wide world around you? Do you want to connect with people who are
different from you? Do you want to find peace?
And then look for the rhythms, the habits, and the practices that will sustain you. Mother Nina,
Father Santi, and I are all willing to sit down and help you explore possibilities, whether at
Grace Church or elsewhere.
We wish you every blessing for this moment of beginning anew.
Yours in Christ,