y Tom Ehrich

My first resolution for 2015 didn't take shape when the ball dropped in Times Square. It began quietly in July, when I decided my weight was too high and it was time to shrink.

No magic powders or diets. Just a steady switch to vegetables and fruits -- "farm to table" -- letting go of desserts and dairy, eating reasonable portions, and exercising twice a day, all with my wife's significant and patient help.

Six months later, I have lost 35 pounds and am close to my target. When I reach 190, perhaps by the end of January, I plan to set 180 as my next target -- a weight I haven't seen since 1982.

My second resolution also emerged in the course of a transitional year. As I adapted to rural living and an outbuilding in the woods for my office, I shifted my work focus to writing, both the forms I had been pursuing -- meditations, essays, blogposts, articles -- and a form new to me, namely, poetry.

Poetry entails a new way of seeing and of expressing what one sees. I feel much the novice in writing poetry. I just enjoy trying.

A third resolution was to speak my mind. As many of you know, clergy tend to pull their punches when proclaiming the Gospel. The actual Gospel that Jesus spoke and lived was so radical, so far beyond anything we would call "progressive," so focused on speaking truth to power, so uninterested in tradition and religiosity, that a preacher who spoke it would be forced out of the pulpit. A writer who wrote it would lose readers. The path to job security, subscription sales and popularity always lies in telling people what they want to hear, not what God wants to say.

Something shifted for me in 2015. I watched US politics unfolding, I saw great disparities in wealth and privilege, I saw the entitled few living shallow and greedy lives, I saw violence against African-Americans, I saw a white-power insurgency, I encountered the great injustices done to native Americans, I saw the great struggles of our time being turned to entitlement for a few -- and I wondered, Where were the preachers? Where were teachings about mercy and generosity and about justice? How could a supposedly religious nation have sunk so low? How could bigotry and fear-driven oppression of vulnerable minorities be allowed to claim the name "Christian"?

I didn't want to get into shaming and blaming. But I realized that God has given me a gift of writing, and if I don't use it for good and Godly purpose, I am wasting the gift. Time to speak boldly.

These three resolutions -- lose weight, focus on writing, speak my mind -- were transformative. I end the year not only feeling healthier, but more excited about my work and more empowered.

Will I be making a list of resolutions by midnight on December 31? Probably not. But I am committed to living with resolve in 2016, whatever the cost.