Dear Friends,   Happy New Year!
For many the new year brings the opportunity for a new beginning – a new you – with a commitment to resolutions to exercise more, lose weight or drink less. Apparently, according to research, gym membership sees a significant rise in the month of January. However, of those who take up membership, very few continue beyond the end of the month. The busyness of life can overwhelm and crowd out the best of intentions.

I do think that January is a good time to take stock. To look back on the events of the previous year and consider how they may help to shape how we’re feeling about the year that lies ahead. What am I most thankful for? And what can I offer as an expression of my gratitude? Nurturing a sense of gratitude and taking time to appreciate the small things that bring joy are essential to our wellbeing – a good way to start and end each day. The more we notice and give thanks, the more we find to be thankful for. So, this is my new year resolution. I am so thankful for the caring, supportive community across our benefice, and I thank God that I can play my part in spreading that care and support as we reach out to the folk we live and work alongside.

This coming year may offer a lot of uncertainty in our world: a general election for us in the UK and the presidential election for the United States. The Middle East is in ferment, and we pray with heavy hearts for a way forward. The refugees from troubled parts of the world still need care and welcome. There is a lot of anxiety around because the future seems uncertain.

But as Christians, we remind ourselves that, ultimately, our security, our sense of peace is found in our relationship with Jesus. There will be challenges in this life but in this Christmas season (yes, it is still Christmastide for us until the beginning of February!) we hold on to the promises of God in the birth of Jesus. In the words from St John’s Gospel – ‘The Word was made flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory’. 

In the coming of Jesus we are reminded that God can bring good out of evil, light out of darkness and hope amid fear. We need to remain faithful, pray and not give up that hope. It is difficult to know what to pray for, and I’m reminded, in the words of the prayer below, that we follow. God leads us and supports us.

With that knowledge, let us be forward looking and full of hope. Blessings for the New Year ahead.

A Prayer for the New Year

Lord God, you have called your servants
to ventures of which we cannot see the ending
by paths as yet untrodden,
through perils unknown.
Give us faith to go out with good courage,
not knowing where we go,
but only that your hand is leading us
and your love supporting us;
through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen
from the Lutheran Book of Wors

With love and prayer, Revd Louise