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As the dawn of a New Year has come, it is time for many of us to consider our New Year's resolution(s).  This is a promise that you make to yourself to start doing something good or stop doing something bad on the first day of the year.

The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.  The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  In the Medieval era, the knights took the "peacock vow" at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.  At Watchnight services, many Christians prepared for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions.

There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism's New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one's wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year's resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, or even religiosity, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually and, I don’t know about you but to me, we as a society need this!

So what does all of this have to do with you? At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year's resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.  Most people aren’t into the practice; most don’t even want to go through the exercise.  But I’m here to encourage you; to help push you; to employ a bit of UU magic that just might stick.  This is about making a real change in attitude and in practical realities.

Whatever it is that has held you back from being all you want to be.  If your health is an issue? If your spouse has poo-pahed your attempts?  If your workload and free time don’t allow for it, it is time to change for the better now!  2016 is here and so is the very best chance for you to live the way you want to live.  It may not be all at once but the first 30 days of change are truly the determining factor.

Resolutions come and go, so do old friends, lovers, relatives, jobs, marriages etc.  But when we find the greatest love of all… an unparalleled appreciation for self, then, and only then, do we start to live the life we are meant to live! Use this time.  Use the season.  Find your way to creating the world, nation, state, UUCVH and home-life you always dreamed of.

We are in need of more strong supporters in our congregation to find their voice and take leadership positions.  Changing of the Board and committees happens every year or so.  I am really looking for a few good women and men to step up this year.  UUCVH needs you!  And, so do I!  Ministry is a fellowship of committed minds, bodies and spirits.

Let’s do this year right!  Let’s say yes to the pledge and really dig in deeply (UUA recommendations for a pledge, or volunteering at the UU for the equal amount of time).  Let’s find our best selves in the social action that comes from commitments to causes bigger than ourselves.  Let’s share the love of our spiritual/ religious community together in a new and deeper way and let our light shine for all the world (LA County especially) to see.

May health, peace and love be ours this day and all of our days,

Gordon Clay Bailey (Happy New Year)

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