walter_t._richardson_4.jpgHave mercy upon me, O God, according to Thy loving kindness: according unto the multitude of Thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions.  Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. – Psalm 51:1, 2

You probably had the first-hand experience of being in church on the first Sunday of this year and noticing the swelled attendance, the crowded altars at prayer time and the enthusiastic responses to the invitation to discipleship.

It happens every year, every January, in almost every house of worship. People generally want to start the New Year off right, with fresh starts and new beginnings and with clean hearts. The making of New Year’s resolutions, though a secular tradition in America, has become almost religious.

According to reports, the 10 top resolutions made each year are spending more time with family and friends, getting in physical shape, losing weight, quitting smoking, enjoying life with less stress,  quitting drinking, getting out of debt, learning something new, helping others and getting organized.

People generally want to see our world get better and there seems to be a common belief that if there is personal improvement, with everybody doing their part, the result will be a better, cleaner, more wholesome universe.

Each of us is qualified to write an opinion column on the condition of our world and if we do we would doubtless come to the same conclusions.

Even at the beginning of 2014, we seem to be suffering from a contagious societal sickness and we seem to be getting sicker as days progress.

And all of the symptoms of our disease are not financial, or economically based. But it could be successfully argued that many of the existing problems and challenges, whether financial, communal or political are the result of human greed and arrogance.

There is recession, which of course is economic sickness. There is digression in good manners, sound judgment and critical thinking. There is

general blatant indiscretion in daily conduct. Even public expression is conveyed through vulgarity and violence.

There is growing obsession with power, prestige and possessions. There is noticeable suppression of voices that advocate for the dispossessed and disinherited. There are unapologetic transgressions, even from the informed, and then there is aggression in political arenas.

So the world is not very clean right now. Dirty politics, dirty families, dirty neighborhoods, dirty leaders, dirty congregations – but we can be clean, again.

What we need are new hearts created, new spirits consummated, new assurances experienced, new joy displayed, new ministry envisioned, new worship, new attitudes developed and new vision instilled.

We need the Lord to have mercy on us like David requested in Psalm 51.  Let’s all resolve to begin the year with new hearts. Then we can feel clean again.


*Walter T. Richardson is pastor-emeritus of Sweet Home Missionary Baptist Church in South Miami-Dade County and chairman of the Miami-Dade Community Relations Board. He may be contacted at Website: