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Wednesday, 23 November 2011
Yet all of us have a desire to be new at the beginning of a New Year - slimmer, fitter, better off, with more time for family or friends, new hobbies or activities and so on. Whether we do manage to be slimmer, fitter with more time for others or not we are still essentially us. We aren’t any more beautiful - even if ‘you’re worth it’ according to L’Oreal, even if Tesco would have us believe that ‘every little helps.’ But at this time of year especially, the church reminds us that the newness that we all long for, is possible, and is promised to us by God.
During the season of Advent we are encouraged to look forward to a time when God will make things in life and in the world new - better, fairer, more just. At Christmas we hear again of the birth of a baby, who when grown, not only talks about this newness, but lives it and encourages others to live it too. In Epiphany, the true identity of this baby is revealed - He is none other than God Himself amongst us and at Candlemas, we hear of God’s ultimate offer of newness - that He came amongst us, so we can be where He is and like He is. God thinks we’re worth it!
It seems hard to believe, in some ways, that I am still relatively new here are your Priest in Charge. In these early weeks you have been very forgiving when I have got things or names wrong! Please continue to bear with me as we settle into working and worshipping together.
At the last PCC meeting we began some new work together, using the future hopes and dreams that many of you told me about in the group meetings I had with you in the early weeks of my time here. We spent time discerning what areas of our life together as a parish we would put some special energy, resources and prayer into. Out of my visits came 10 broad themes: 1. Church growth across all ages, 2. Deepened faith, 3. Engagement with families, kids, youth, schools, 4. Higher profile of church in community/connecting with community, 5. Renew/review our worship, 6. Study/house groups, 7. Making buildings work for us, 8. Working together as a parish, 9. Social life and 10. Communications. Out of that list the PCC decided to focus down on exploring 3 areas over the next year or so:
Communications - how we communicate in & between the churches and the wider parish
Deepening our faith - esp focussing on launching Advent and Lent study groups initially
Reviewing and renewing our worship
Some work on these areas has been done by a small PCC sub group which will present to PCC, but in the New Year we will want to know what you all think and want and hope and dream about in these specific areas. It would be great, in time, to know your thoughts.
In early January, we are holding a special service which is often held before Christmas, which celebrates the newness and renewing that God offers us and His world. On 8th January at 3.00 pm at St Peter’s we are holding our Christingle service. It is a beautiful service for everyone and reminds us of all that we long for especially at this time of year: the orange is the world, the red ribbon is the love of God for us all, the candle is Jesus the Light of the World, the cocktail sticks with the sweets/dried fruit are God’s prvision for us and the gifts He gives each of us to serve Him and others. It would be wonderful to welcome as many of you as possible to that service.
I wish you a happy and holy Christmas and fruitful New Year when they come and please do pray for our life together as we journey with God into a new season together using the Living God’s Love prayer from the Diocese:
draw us deeper into your love;
Jesus our Lord,
send us to care and serve;
make us heralds of good news.
Stir us, strengthen us,
teach and inspire us
to live your love
with generosity and joy,
imagination and courage;
for the sake of your world
and in the name of Jesus. Amen.