January 2018

Dear friends

A very happy New Year to you all? Without sounding too pessimistic I wonder why we wish people a “happy” New Year when, for many, it will be anything but. Some of us will enter the New Year far from fit, some of us may have financial worries, some may be going through a breakdown in some kind of relationship, and so the list could go on. Of course, we all hope that the outcome of our problems will be a good one, but happy?

I always feel that I have to be careful with some people regarding the wording of Christmas cards (even though my wife usually writes them!). I wonder if you had to do that with anybody this Christmas? My dear late father did not have a particularly happy last few years of his life and we always had to choose our words carefully – something like “Thinking of you at Christmas” rather than “Happy Christmas”.

And so it might be with the New Year we are embarking upon. It is an unknown path that we are treading. The past is gone, and we can remember it, but the future is unknown to us.

In the Old Testament, when Joshua led the Israelites into the promised land he told them to follow the Ark of the Covenant, carried by the priests and containing the two tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. This was to happen because “You have never passed this way before”.

As we journey on in our lives, sometimes we will travel along a well-worn road, familiar to us and immediately recognisable. But at other times the path will be unfamiliar and perhaps intimidating. On the other hand, an unfamiliar path sometimes broadens out and presents us with all kinds of exciting possibilities.

The Ark of the Covenant had become, for the Israelites, their guide as they journeyed on. When we go somewhere unfamiliar we often rely on the services of a guide, for example on holiday. So, in the ordinary matters of life, it is important for us that we have a guide to help us when we need to be pointed in the right direction. 

Just as the Ark of the Covenant was a guiding light to the Israelites, so today, Jesus can become that guiding light to us. As we enter another New Year, let us pray to God, through Jesus Christ, that he will guide us and help us, whatever the future may hold for us.

Marie Curie, the Polish-born scientist and two-time winner of the Nobel Prize wrote:

“Life is not easy for any of us. But what of that? We must have perseverance and above all confidence in ourselves. We must believe that we are gifted for something, and that this thing, at whatever cost, must be attained.”

With very best wishes for 2018!

Chris Miller

Licensed Lay Minister and Churchwarden