Today is the first Sunday of Christmas—a Sunday named for what is no longer.
But while it may be the first Sunday of Christmas, it is the last Sunday before the New Year—2015.
Often what we do around this time of year is consider what we would like to do differently—or better—in the year to come.
Asking ourselves what we’d like to do differently or better in the New Year is a good question.
But recently I heard of a different way of asking this same old question.
Resolutions are those things we pledge to do or accomplish in the New Year, but so few of us are able to make them happen. And the reason for such is because the things we resolve to do are hard. They are difficult. They are immense.
Our New Year’s resolutions become like giant rocks, that are difficult to move—and so the question that I recently heard in regards to making a New Year’s resolution was: “What moves your rock?”
I like this question because it implies the truth that resolutions are hard, immense, and difficult to make happen.
Additionally, it calls for introspection and honesty, intentionality, even accountability.
So many of us make resolutions of what we want to do—lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt—but rarely do we have a very good plan to make it all happen.
“I’ll just start going to the gym.” “I’ll just throw away my cigarettes.” “I’ll just stop spending money.”
If that’s your plan, then all I am going to say is “good luck” because you’re going to need it when it comes to moving those immovable rocks in your life.
So let us today, on this last Sunday of the year, this first Sunday of Christmas, consider what can move the immovable in the New Year.
But before we do, a little back story about where this question comes from can be helpful.
In California’s Death Valley, a giant dry lake bed known as Racetrack Playa has been the site of an interesting natural phenomenon.
With the exception of rare rainstorms during the summer and winter, the playa remains an arid, wind-honed mud flat, where no vegetation survives and no signs of animal life exist.
But strangely, there’s a lot of movement still happening there—something right out of X-Files or Lost, if you are familiar with those TV shows.
What happens is that giant rocks that dot the lake bed are being moved around the perfectly flat valley, and no one knows how or why.
There are no human, animal, or bulldozer tracks around them to show that something pushed them, yet there are straight, curved and even zigzagged ruts in the dried mud which unmistakably indicates that these giant, several-hundred-pound immovable boulders, have been moved.
Admittedly, this is a bit creepy.
The famed sailing rocks have UFO bloggers and paranormal aficionados all geeked-out about who— or what— is turning Racetrack Playa into an intergalactic Zen garden.
But there are much more probable explanations than paranormal activity.
Some geologists speculate that during the rare rainstorms that do soak the lake bed, the surface mud becomes slick enough that the 90+ mph winds slide the rocks along the temporarily low-friction surface.
Other scientists suggest that the winds and the freezing desert nights create a thin layer of ice, turning the quarter-inch-deep rainwater runoff into an ice slick that the rocks blow across.
Regardless of your theory, the fact remains—immovable objects are being moved. And such can serve as an inspiration to aspire to the same in 2015
So then, with that bit of information, the question for this First Sunday of Christmas, and this last Sunday of the year 2014, is: “What can move the immovable in our lives?”
Our text for today is a Psalm of praise, but its method is a progression of praise given to God.
It starts with the heavens and their host in verses 1-4, then moves down to earth in verses 7-9, to creatures and all of humanity in verses 10-12, and finally to the people of God in verse 14—the whole created order is called to, and united in, exalting and praising God.
Charles Spurgeon gushes poetically regarding this psalm, saying: “As a flash of lightning flames through space, and enwraps both heaven and earth in one vestment of glory, so doth the adoration of the Lord in this psalm light up all the universe and cause it to glow with a radiance of praise….
For its exposition, the chief requisite is a heart on fire, with reverent love to the Lord over all, who is to be blessed forever.”
This Psalm, and these words from Spurgeon, show us what can move the immoveable of life—that when we are overwhelmed, there is still reason to give praise— that when we make an achievement, there is reason to give praise because the immovable rocks of life never have to hold us down or back because our God is God, and all God’s faithful are forever close to God.
Psalm 148 is, therefore, a great jumping-off point for recognizing that God is an invisible force who is moving the immovable in our lives.
And as we recognize such, it can move us to give praise to God for such, even when there seems to be reason not to.
So let us consider how to move the immoveable of our lives in 2015.
Permit me to make some recommendations.
First, let us seek to move the immovable by resolving to read God’s holy word.
Sure, sitting down and cracking open your bible would be great, but first ask yourself, what do you want to learn about God?
What parts of the Bible do you want to better understand and then live?
Consider such, then open yourself up to God’s word while resolving to live out, in 2015, the biblical truths that have blessed you.
Second, let us seek to move the immovable through prayer.
The power of prayer is often missed or even forgotten. The habit of prayer is easily lost.
But consider what it would be like to engage God daily, frequently.
Would doing so result in a closer, deeper relationship? Would the immensity of life, be made less daunting? Would the joys of life be made even more joyful?
Consider such, then open yourself up to more prayer in 2015.
Third, let us seek to move the immovable while in Community.
All followers of Jesus need a group of people around them whom they know and are known by.
A group to care for and are be cared for by. A group to challenge and be challenged by.
Ask yourself, how do you intend to allow giving and receiving from community to shape your 2015?
What commitment will you make? What will you be willing to share and be open to?
Consider such, and then seek out community in 2015.
And lastly, may I recommend that in the New Year, we let God’s Spirit move the immovable of our life.
May we do so by asking ourselves where the Holy Spirit is convicting us when it comes to areas of our lives that need change in 2015?
Permit yourself to hand over to God that which weighs you down, and holds you back.
Do such a thing, faithfully and honestly, and we will discover a resolution that is infused with redemption, not just in 2015, but throughout the rest of our lives.
But may we be ever mindful that in all of these “immovable-moving means”, our own willingness is the one piece we need to most closely examine.
We must ask ourselves, are we willing to look for ways in which we need to be changed by God?
Are we willing to make resolutions, and take steps to, propel our own growth?
Are we willing to do the sometimes hard and uncomfortable work of moving to where God has directed us?
If we are, then something special can and will happen.
If we are not, then we can expect the same fate of all our previous resolutions that failed.
On the first Sunday of Christmas, the last Sunday of the year, there is much in our lives to give praise to God for.
Even if your year has been far from a good one, there is reason to praise God—because once again, at Christmas, we have been reminded that even in the dimmest of nights, the dimmest of lives—Jesus has come—Immanuel, God with us.
Psalm 148 encourages the people of God to praise God for how God moves us and blesses us. And the biggest move, and the biggest blessing, has always been, and will always be, Jesus.
It is as legendary preacher Billy Graham said when asked if he had ever seen God.
Graham said he had never seen the wind, but he had seen the effects of the wind.
While God isn’t physically visible, the way God affects people, is.
The way God affects us, is.
The movement of God can be as clear as the movement of immovable boulders, given their trails in the mud.
Because it is God who can and does move the immovable.
May we recognize such, may we depend on such, and most of all, may we praise God for such.
Happy New Year. Amen.