Last month I started off by writing about remembering; we know that past memories
continue to affect and shape us.
I hope you will not mind a short paragraph of two as we come towards the end of 2016 in which I remind me and you of previous December columns. This is the fourth December I
have been at Christchurch, this is the fourth column to mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
December 2013: I had only been here a few weeks, wondering about what this place was really like (still working on that one) and wrote about nativity plays and a Saviour.
During 2014 I invited people to answer a survey about Christchurch and used the December Chronicle to report on some of the answers I had been given. I was grateful for those who had taken the time to offer their views and remain grateful for all those who
contribute in so many varied ways to the life of the church.
Last year I used the space to think a little about “that peace we long for”. It had only been a few weeks since a bombing in Beirut and the terrorist attack in Paris. A prayer shared then is worth quietly, slowly, praying again:
Eternal God, in the stillness of this night you sent your almighty Word
to pierce the world’s darkness with the light of salvation:
give to the earth the peace that we long for and fill our hearts with the joy of heaven
through our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
For Alison and I this year has seen a major change. Most of you are aware that Alison is spending most of her time in Leighton Buzzard where, looking to the future, we have bought a house. This is the town in which Alison spent her teenage years; this is the place where her mother still lives. I have grown very familiar with the roads between here and there! The house now has heat and light and floorboards where they should be. For much of the year that was not the case. As the house started to come back together we realised that when the work was done the house would not actually look very different; the new pipes, the new wires, would all be hid from sight. It prompted me to think about how God brings about
change in us: sometimes the most deep seated changes are not visible – until you try something new and realise you can now act in ways you would not have thought possible.
There is other work to do in the house that will bring about more visible change; yet unless the infrastructure had been fixed further work would be worthless. Our insides, heart and mind and soul, need renewing through the work of God’s spirit before it can show on the
outside. For me this means that whatever we do must start with prayer. That message will be a common theme through 2017.
Are you prepared to pray for change in yourself as well as change in the world?
“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” ―Winston S. Churchill
I am delighted, although not without some feelings of trepidation, with the opportunity to take the Nativity Story around the streets of Abbeymead and Abbeydale in two evenings early in December.
Several conversations have made it clear that some folk who have said they will help are moving out of their comfort zone. We often label “easy” those things we know we can do and those we think beyond us as “difficult”. Remember, your “easy” may be someone
else’s difficult and vice versa: we need each other. Moving beyond our comfort zones may not be easy, it is the way growth happens. One last thing: looking back at columns from
past years reminds me of something else: it is probably about time to get the photo updated!
May you have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.
May Christ richly bless you and through you