That’s a common question that I ask when someone comes to me with a computer problem. It seems silly, but anyone who has had much experience with computers has discovered the “miracle” of rebooting to fix a frustrating computer issue. The fact of the matter is that computers, like people, are incredibly complex. As complexity increases, so, too, does the opportunity for things to go wrong. A transistor doesn’t switch properly, one algorithm conflicts with another, or a tiny, obscure bit of code has a syntax error that the engineers missed. One error introduces a small drip (or even a cascade) of additional glitches, the computer slows to a crawl, and you contemplate which window through which you will hurl the frustrating device. Have you tried rebooting? Often as not, rebooting a computer can reset all the broken or disrupted processes.
I have never been one to make much over the turning of the calendar from December to January, but I have been thinking lately about rebooting. The year just past has been…well…complicated. I’m ordinarily active and healthy and have always been able to do pretty much what I wanted. But I write this sitting in a recliner just a bit more than 3 weeks after knee replacement surgery—and remembering that this wasn’t even my only surgery of the year! In 2016 Mary Jane’s father received a serious cancer diagnosis and is still undergoing treatments. And, as most of you know, we spent a month at the ICU bedside of our oldest son as he clung to life after a catastrophic work accident (He’s still recovering, but I’m glad to say that the long-term signs are positive). And we’re just one family. Many of you have faced as much or more than we. As the calendar changes to January from December, I roll that question over in my mind… “Have You tried rebooting?”
This is not to say that 2016 was an altogether bad year. I’m too optimistic to believe that any “year” is all bad. You—that is to say, our Seaside church family—have been amazing. As we, have faced personal and family challenges, you have stepped up. The year just past has been one of the most successful in the 27-year life of our church as we have seen increases in membership, attendance, mission and stewardship. The rain-delayed Country Fair ended up being a surprising success—though, all things considered, was it really a surprise? In spite of everything we face in life, God is Good. All the time.
So the calendar turns. For good or ill, the ball will drop in Times Square on New Year’s Eve. We do not know what 2017 will bring any more than we knew what would come in 2016. So it’s a good time to pause. Rest. Reflect. Repent. Embrace gratitude. Claim hope. To reboot calls us to each of these to one degree or another. The writer of Hebrews suggests that we “lay aside every weight and the sin which clings closely and run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” But most importantly, he reminds us to look to Jesus, “the pioneer and perfector of our faith.”