As we approach January (which is said to be named after the Roman god Janus, usually depicted as having two faces, one looking to the past and the other to the future), I am sure that like Janus you find yourself looking back at all that has happened in the world, in our local community, in our church and in our personal lives in the last year, while at the same time thinking about what lies in store for us in the year to come.
Looking back, we have sadly witnessed some terrible events in the last twelve months including the terrorist attacks in Manchester and London, the Grenfell Tower fire and hundreds of thousands being forced to flee their homes in Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Myanmar to escape war and oppression. Although some of these events have shown man’s inhumanity to their fellow human beings, we have also seen how they have brought out the best in mankind with people coming forward to help those caught up in the terrorist attacks, sometimes risking their own lives to do so, strangers donating money and goods to those who lost everything in the Grenfell fire and aid organisations, charities and individuals like our friend, Vanessa, and her Marlow Refugee Action Group and, of course, David and Jo supported by all of you doing their bit to help refugees.
Looking ahead, we already know that one of the things that lies in store for some members of our congregation this year is the opportunity to go to Calais to work with those helping the refugees there. We cannot change the past, but we can help to shape the future. As we look forward to the new year, I encourage you all to think what else we might we do as a congregation or as individuals to share God’s love and try to make life better for others.
By the time you read this, Christmas will already be in the past and we will be starting to look forward to Easter. I was in Scotland for Christmas and on Christmas Eve, I went to a service at a local Church of Scotland church. I was rather surprised when the Minister devoted part of his service to talking about Easter, but then it made sense when he reminded the congregation that Christmas would be unthinkable without Easter and that Easter would be unthinkable without Christmas.
As part of the service, the Minister played a short video depicting a Graham Kendrick song called ‘Thorns in the Straw’. I found it very moving.
I hope that in the coming year you will experience the peace and joy the love of Christ brings and that you will feel God’s presence at all times.