A very happy New Year to you all. I hope your Christmas was blessed, and joyful. Thank you very much indeed for your support for your churches across the festive season in so many ways. It was wonderful to be be able to be together, and celebrate without the restraints of the last few years. A particular thank you to the many people who worked very hard “behind the scenes” to make Christmas possible; whether that be with music and song, or with working with children, or decorating our churches, making refreshments, printing orders of service. I have said this many times, but it is worth repeating: we are on a shared journey, a joint venture, a group endeavour. Working together in faith makes a church.
We look ahead in hope for better times, doing what we can to help one another, praying for peace in the world, with truth and holiness. The New Year has an unusual duality about it, representing both continuity, as one day moves to the next without pause, but also change, as the year turns, calendars are renewed and old diaries put away. We mark the change by our attempts at “new year resolutions”, giving ourselves a goal or goals for self betterment. A favourite uncle of mine would on the stroke of Big Ben rush to the back door with a broom, and sweep the old year out, before going round to the front and sweeping the new one in.
The writer of Ecclesiastes was cynical about humanity’s efforts to master time, commenting only that such things were a futility, and that the polarities of life (such as sorrow or joy) were in the hand and gift of God, who alone is the master of all times. “He has set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end”. This cyclical approach to time, and our perception of it, becomes directional in the New Testament, when the purposes of God are made clear in Jesus Christ, and the future return of Christ in glory revealed as the new thing that the whole Creation aches for. If Eccelesiastes (in the Old Testament) is about “keeping going”, the thrust of the New, (as in for example these verses from 1 Peter 1) is about “being ready.”
3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, 5 who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.
Worship Services for Sunday 8th January
9.30am Morning Prayer at St John’s, Stoke Row with Revd Romey Poston
11am Holy Communion at St Peter and Paul, Checkendon with Canon Kevin Davies
Midweek zoom service: Wednesday Evensong at 5.00pm 410 935 129
Please continue to pray for Stella Kendall, of Checkendon, who remains in Abingdon hospital for rehabilitation physiotherapy. Pray for Mary Weller, also of Checkendon, recently moved to Ingleton in Yorkshire, to be close to her family. Remember those known to you who are cared for either at home or in a nursing environment, and those who live by themselves. Thank God for the work of your local school, its headteacher, staff and Governors. Especially ask for God’s blessing on Stoke Row Headteacher Charlotte Whittle, as she begins her final half term at Stoke Row School, and for Nic Steele, the head of Peppard School, who will be moving into a shared headship role. Please pray too for someone you care for, and thank God for everything they bring to your life.
Please also pray for those who serve on your PCC (“Parochial Church Council”) and the Langtree Team Council. These groups carry the weight of responsibility for your church and our team, and, as per my opening comments, they need your support and involvement so that our churches can continue to flourish.
We do not forget Ukraine. You may question whether prayer in the face of such evil can be effective; my answer is that every little act of defiance against the violence and inhumanity changes something, somewhere. If any of you have a Times subscription, I recommend the short documentary video by Anthony Loyd, reporting on the rescue work being carried out by Dave Young. It appears futile, but lives are being saved, one by one.
May the Lord bless you and keep you in his love
Your Rector, Kevin Davies.