January – only the beginning…

Dear all

Happy New Year! As I write this just before Christmas I find myself as usual panicking about last minute Christmas presents, cards and food, as well as anticipating the joy and anticipation of the season to come. I mean how many pairs of socks does someone really need?! It’s the same every year – however organised I try to be I cannot seem to escape the pressure of this combination of joyful celebration and frenetic preparation!! I share this not in any way to complain but simply to acknowledge the beauty, joy and the complexity of the season. One of the things that is helping me navigate my way through the richness and complexity of these days before Christmas at the moment is the photograph we have on our mantelpiece of a little three year Ethiopian girl that our family is sponsoring through Compassion UK but more of that later on….

Recently in church we began the gospel of Mark with his opening words which simply state ‘The beginning of the good news of Jesus Christ, the Son of God’. And that is what Christmas and for that matter New Year is all about – it is the beginning of the good news and each year Christmas reminds us what God came to do, to come and live among us, to bring his kingdom of love and peace to his created world and to involve us in his work. So as much as we might frantically try to get everything done before the big day, God reminds us that Christmas is just the beginning. Because quite honestly there is just too much courage, too much tenderness, too much hope, too much promise to squash into a single day or even the twelve days of Christmas. Which maybe means that it is precisely this time of the year in January that we need this promise more. Most of us are mightily relieved to put away the decorations and the tinsel post-Christmas, those are the pretty surface bits of the celebrations, we may feel our homes seem somewhat bare without them, for a few hours (!) but remember that the promise of the Christmas child is still with us, working through us, continuing the story of the good news among and in and with us. It is important to remember this given the headlines, scandals, upheavals, unrest and general anxiety of many in our world. The thing is the promise of Christmas is bigger than we can ever imagine and God’s mercy and courage and blessing extends further and deeper than we can imagine too.

God cannot change the world without our participation and here I return to our little three year old and her family who we are helping through sponsorship so that little Yabsira can go to school which will be a wonderful new beginning for her and her family. Of course there are several charities through whom you can do similar but having met a young man who was sponsored himself as a child in India and who now works as an ambassador for Compassion UK sharing his amazing story, we are putting on an evening hosted by him called Curry and Comedy on February 8th at the Memorial Hall, which promises to be a great occasion. Jane’ Alam Sheikh along with comedian Steve Legg will be telling us his story while showing us how to cook an authentic Indian Curry. It is definitely something to look forward to. It is a ticketed event so look for the details in this magazine. A new venture for many of us as church and community which we would love you to share so that we can give many children the new beginning they deserve.

So if you’ve a tendency to January blues, remember God’s promises, join in with his work, look forward and remember this is just the beginning….

With all love and prayers

Revd Liz