Happy New Year! As I write this early on a very dark December morning – or is it still night(?)! it feels hard to believe that yes, another year is about to finish and we begin again and enter 2020. In one sense we begin again at the start of the year, with our usual round, the familiarity of routine, the predictability or not of the seasons as our weather patterns seem to change. Perhaps new years’ resolutions are made; ways to make our lives work better for us, for others, as our lives return to normal after the riches of the Christmas season. Yet in another sense we don’t begin again because we are travelling on into the future, into the unknown, with a whole wealth of experience to take our bearings from as we negotiate the way ahead. For most of us our lives begun a long time ago now!
For some the new year will bring or has already brought about great changes. These may be exciting new things in which to engage ourselves with all sorts of new opportunities and we rejoice with you and wish you God speed! For others change will be far more difficult as circumstances dictate. Illness, bereavement, redundancy, to name but a few brings a very unwelcome knock to the door, and we need all our strength and the help of others to find a way through. Yes the world at times can seem very dark indeed, yet as we have just celebrated, we are not on our own in a Godless world, despite what we may think and I know that not everyone finds they can believe in this, which incidentally please feel free to discuss with me anytime! God became one of us through the birth of his Son Jesus Christ, Emmanuel, God with us, and promises to be with us always to the end of time. Extraordinary I know, but there it is.
The world could not hold him; it tried to but failed, yet God rose above and beyond this world, sending his Spirit to help and guide us as he gives us birth, life and of course death. So for some the world has had to let them go, to return home, to enter not another new year but to be born into an entirely new existence where certainly all things will be made new. It is of course a mystery, a wonderful mystery, one in which we are given glimpses of throughout our lives. This January is a wonderful time to really try to seek out those glimpses and shafts of light. We celebrate at the beginning of the month the Feast of the Epiphany which means ‘revelation’. The Magi, brought gifts to the newly born King, travelling from the East, following that star! It was foretold that a king would be born for all people. And so it was.
Towards the end of the month we get ready for our annual Christingle service which we celebrate with Candlemas. An ancient celebration of candles, centuries old, which also marks what the church calls ‘The Presentation of Christ at the Temple’, where two faithful people, old Simeon and Anna, have both in their own way and perhaps not even knowing, waited to see the coming of the messiah. When the holy family bring the baby Jesus into the temple as tradition dictated, Simeon knows that his wish has been fulfilled. In our own ‘temple’ we celebrate all of that as we light our Christingle candles, with all the sweeties and fruits and as a final look over our shoulder at Christmas, we ponder anew Jesus as the light of the world with a visiting speaker from The Children’s Society.
So as the morning light comes, the morning star has been born, another year begins, I pray that we will all find good health and happiness throughout this year in our wonderful communities. For those who grieve, know that others have passed this way too. For those who are struggling, there is help nearer than you think. Be assured of our support through prayer, friendship, hospitality in your parish of Capel and Ockley. Our doors are aways open! So I wish you a very happy New Year and look forward with you to all that our lives and communities have to offer this 2020. I finish with the words of the ancient prayer The Nunc Dimitis, inspired by the words of Simeon.
‘Master, now you are dismissing your servant in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel’ (Luke 2.28-32)
With my love and prayers as ever