For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known.
(I Corinthians 13:12, The New Revised Standard Version)
As usual, the turning of the page from one year to the next gets us thinking about the resolutions we need to make in order to improve our lives, be better at doing what we say is important, or muzzle the people who lovingly nag us into a more acceptable set of habits. I’ve never had much luck with resolutions myself, unless you count the ones that start with a bunch of “whereas’s” and end with just as many “therefore be it resolveds.” (If you check with either Susan or me, you will find that we ascribe to the principle that “Roberts Rules rule!)
But as the English language has been adjusting to technology, an interesting change has been taking place. When we use the word resolution now, we are more likely to be speaking of the screens on our devices than we are of some oath or promise to live differently. The number of pixels (not even a word until around 1969) gives us an idea of the resolution of an image that will appear on the screen we are watching. The word “pixel” is a compound abbreviated contraction of the two words “pictures” and “element,” allowing Pixar to change it even more and make Toy Story 1-3, but I digress.
In Paul’s letters to the Corinthians, he reminds the new community of faith that even though they don’t know everything, can’t tell what will happen next, and have to constantly wrestle with a human nature that seems to be at odds with what God wants, things will eventually get clearer. In essence, they will have better resolution, spiritually speaking. This will happen, “when the complete comes.”
Today, we wonder if the amount of time we and our children spend on our screens is healthy. The experts have different opinions on this, but it seems to boil down to how much time we spend interacting with real live human beings. It is not the presence of screens in our lives, but the absence of community that seems to be detrimental. Maybe Paul was on to something when he pointed to the time when we will see “face to face.” It is community that is important and the abilities that we develop and experience we acquire when we live together, navigating our differences and tolerating each other’s annoying habits…which brings us back to resolutions.
The unraveling of our communities is something that many have commented upon. The violence that we inflict, the hatred we spew, the unabashed bigotry that passes for civil discourse are all evidence that we are careening toward a bleak future of disregard for those who differ from or disagree with us. Maybe this does call for some resolve on our parts, but it also calls for a change in the way we look at each other.
If you are a person for whom making resolutions is helpful, might I suggest one that puts you back into the community from which you feel estranged? Maybe it’s your work or your neighborhood, maybe it’s your family or your paintball team, maybe it’s your church or your God. We all need a community, otherwise all we can see is the fuzzy image of ourselves in the mirror, and that’s no way to get the whole picture. We need a community to point out the elements we can’t see for ourselves.
Let’s move into the new year with a promise to one another that we will strengthen our communities. Amen!