We’re Back. What Will Be Different?

Now that most of us are back to work, how many New Year’s Resolutions have already gone out the window? Frankly I appreciate what Bernice King tweeted about resolutions:

Don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Determine what kind of everyday human you want to be. And decide if that human will be for goodness, justice, peace, and love. And envision if that human has dreams that will lift humanity. Then the moments, years, and minutes will matter.

Yes, I want to make selfless determinations and compassionate decisions, and I want to envision being the kind of human who dreams noble dreams.

AND I hope to stop eating so much sugar.  This article by Tara Parker-Pope inspires me: Make 2020 the Year of Less Sugar.  AND – not only do I know that milk, bread, and salad dressing all have sugar in them, but the Church will try to feed me such things as soon as today – my first day of Let’s-Eat-Less-Sugar.

There will be candy in the staff kitchen and sandwiches at the long meeting and cookies at every church supper.  There will be wine at dinner parties (even church dinner parties, my teetotaling friends.) There will be cake at staff birthday celebrations.  There might even be sugar on the vegetables for those of us living in the South.

How can the Church help?

It makes me queasy to consider Church to be a self-help organization. It’s true that Church can help us find forgiveness and peace and purpose.  Church can entertain us.  Church can support us through grief and addiction.  Church can open up connections in the community.  Church can even hook us up with childcare.

But the fundamental purpose of Church is not to support the members – although sometimes our call to serve means serving each other within the walls of the Church building.  The Constitution of my denomination says that the mission of the Church is one and the same with God’s mission:

“to announce the nearness of God’s kingdom, bringing good news to all who are impoverished, sight to all who are blind, freedom to all who are oppressed, and proclaiming the Lord’s favor upon all creation.”

The purpose of the Church is to fulfill God’s purposes and – yes – God wants us to live our best lives and not ruin our teeth or livers or brains by consuming too much delicious God-given sugar.  We are missing the point, though, if we think this is the only purpose of the Church: to serve, entertain, support, and delight us.

Recovery Churches exist to help those living with addiction so that they can support others.

Yoga Churches exist to help center those seeking focus and awareness so that they can focus on and become more aware of others.

Craft Churches exist to value the art of making things for the sake of sharing those creations with others.

Or something like that.

If we are healthy and have more energy, we can serve others better than if we are sick and listless.  Church World can help with this or Church World can sabotage this.  Questions to ask in your spiritual community:

  • Does our hospitality invite healthier living? (Resolution #1: More fruit and veggies and less fat and sugar at eating events.)
  • Does our culture encourage people to make confession, ask for help, accept brokenness?  (Resolution #2: More acceptance of imperfection and less shaming about messy lives.)
  • Do we reward staff, volunteers, and members who work “all the time”?  (Resolution #3: Not just more Sabbath time but any Sabbath time.)

I’ll be working on my sugar intake.  I pray our congregations will be working on healthier hospitality, broader acceptance, and remembering that even God took time to rest. Happy New Year!

Image of some of my favorite sugar sources. 

4 responses to “We’re Back. What Will Be Different?

  1. I stopped eating sugar (and a few other things) 9 months ago and it is the best thing I’ve done for my health.
    It’s rough the first few weeks, but now it isn’t as bad.
    I’ve talked about it at church (and people can see I’ve lost a lot of weight because of it) and now I’m seeing sugar free options at coffee hour, with people saying to me “we made a gluten free/sugar free snack, pastor”. The people who used to give me candy for Christmas all gave me non-food gifts this year, or sugar free gifts.
    I keep olive oil and vinegar in my office so I can have my own sugar free salad dressing (dressings almost always have sugar).
    If you want a sugar free buddy, give me a call.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We have so few potlucks (and no coffee fellowship) that the sugar-avoidance part of this reflection isn’t an issue for me at church (other places–another issue), but what continually challenges me is that my tiny, elderly congregation really does focus on caring for one another, rather than people outside the walls. They’re not willing to hear anything they disagree with or even that challenges them. Their central focus is their own comfort. But most of them are over 75. I don’t know how to navigate this. I’ve always understood my call to be as prophet, not chaplain.


    • I too belong to a church with older members (we all love our coffee fellowship), and although we extend care to those who need it within our own walls, the congregants are always willing to help others, outside of the church.

      We have many guest presentations throughout the year from local organizations and the congregation is very willing to give financial assistance to these organizations. After hearing about the plights of others and the needs in the community, the congregants pray for the organizations that are doing the heavy lifting. We may be older and small, but it doesn’t stop us from bringing good news to the impoverished.


  3. Chris Vogelsang

    I can so relate to this post. Before I retired, I worked for a church and we had MANY social occasions with ample sugar. One of my jobs was to co-facilitate a Diabetes Support Group. I started bringing “diabetic friendly” items to the pot-lucks and coffee hours and seasonal tea parties. What was amazing (and should not have been) to me, was that these items would disappear quickly, as other people who “knew better” wanted to eat sugar-free items too! It was an opportunity to share info about what diabetics need, and how we can delay the onset of some diseases by avoiding sugar and reducing fat in our diets. A few years later I developed diabetes (family history) and needed all this info for myself, to delay the need for medication in managing my disease. Keep sharing your thoughts, Jan, you are an inspiration to many!


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