(Isaiah 43:19a - NRSV)
When I think about the coming of a new year, I think about golf. I know…that’s a little odd. But if you have golfed with me, you may already know why.
In golf there is something called a mulligan. Now, if there are official rules about a mulligan, I am not wholly aware of them (that may be by choice). In my golfing life, a mulligan is a kind of do-over when you need another chance to get the shot right. It may be engaged when you shot off of the tee goes more sideways than forward. It may be engaged when you don’t quite hit over the water hazard in front of you. It may be engaged when you hit the sand trap instead of the green. It may be engaged when your put sails past the hole. Whenever you engage it, it’s a do-over, a chance to get the shot right.
In official golf, I think there’s only one mulligan per round (again, I am fuzzy on the rules). In my golfing world, you can take any number of mulligan’s, depending on how many you need to feel good about the score you write down (assuming you mark down an accurate score!). I am a golfer who needs and offers a lot of grace, a lot of do-overs!
When I come to a new year, I look backwards and wonder what I could have done better. This exercise is helpful. Many leaders of the faith have engaged what we call the examen, which is the spiritual practice of examining your life through the eyes of faith so that it can change and shape the way you live tomorrow. That’s a good practice.
But what I love most about the changing from one year to the next is the mulligan! It’s an opportunity to start fresh and live the life you want to live in the year ahead of you. The funny part is, every day is an opportunity for a mulligan. You don’t have to wait for a new year to be able to start fresh. In 2 Corinthians 5:17, the early faith leader Paul writes to the church saying, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!” Paul reminded the early Christians that every moment is a chance to turn toward Christ and start fresh. That’s because Jesus is full of grace for you and ready to give you a new life at any moment, not just at the start of the new year.
As you say goodbye to this year and welcome in the new year, may you live a mulligan-ed life, one that know God’s grace for you. One that turns toward Christ and becomes wholly new!
Happy New Year,
Pastor Becky Jo Messenbrink