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Beatitudes for a New Year

The calendar has turned, and so it is time (in the words of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem ‘In Memorium CVI’) to “ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky// the flying cloud, the frosty light: the year is dying in the night”.  It’s time, to quote the same poem, to “ring out the old, ring in the new”.

Tennyson’s poem suggests that the changing of the calendar can be an opportunity for change that has less to do with personal resolutions and more to do with ‘ringing in’ a more just, humane, and peaceable world.  As he ends the poem: 

Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease;
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant [one] and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.


And so, in keeping with Tennyson’s invitation to ‘ring in the common love of good’ that we encounter in the ‘Christ that is to be’ – and in keeping with my tendency to steadfastly avoid new year’s resolutions - I offer nine new year’s beatitudes for this reading community of justice-loving Jesus’ followers.  Read them as an invitation to write your own new year’s beatitudes, to help shape the year ahead.

Blessed are you who choose welcome over fear and compassion over comfort, for you may encounter Christ himself unaware.  

Blessed are you who sense the ordinary smallness of God’s loving justice, for no act of love, kindness, or fairness will be below you.  

Blessed are you who sense the extraordinary expansiveness of God’s loving justice, for no act of public justice, advocacy, or action will be too big for you to try. 

Blessed are you who are willing to be uncomfortable in your pursuit of a more just world, for you will find God’s spirit stretching you beyond your wildest imagination. 


Blessed are you who choose deep and humble listening over wordy arrogance, for you will come to recognize the humanity of even your most frustrating foes.  You may even come to know them, no longer as foes, but as unlikely friends.  

Blessed are you who listen for the voice of the poor and the suffering, for you will hear the quiet invitation of God’s upside-down kingdom.

Blessed are you who step away – even for a season – from the distracting noise of the world that fights for your attention.  You may come to find an unexpected joy, the to time to relish it, and the energy to pass it on to your unsuspecting neighbour.

Blessed are you who are willing to fail as you improvise your way with Jesus along this cross-shaped journey of love, justice, and peace.  You will be surprised at what God can do with your weakness.  

Blessed are you who go into this year remembering that the greatest of these – the greatest of all – is love, for you will leave this year being held by the God who is Love.

Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash

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