Happy New Year all! (How late can you leave it to say that?)

I hope you have all had a good Christmas and are feeling hopeful for 2023. Ali and I are so grateful for our church family – for the joy of celebrating the birth of Jesus together during the month of Advent and Christmas services and for the generous gifts we received from you. There were so many highlights – an incredible evening of carols and readings led by our stunningly talented musicians, a brilliantly fun Christingle service attended by well over a hundred locals not to mention the cheeky chocolate nativity on Christmas day!

And so, as we begin another year we have the opportunity to reset, refocus and recommit ourselves to one another and to our God.

I was listening to a worship song yesterday with the words: “”for from you are all things, and to you are all things, you deserve the glory”. And I reflected on the fact that we can be so grateful for all that God has given us in creation and in one another and there is only one response – to give our all to Him and to worship Him. To give Him our lives. And of course, that also means our resources and even finances. We haven’t typically had an offering or offertory hymn in our Sunday services, certainly not recently, and I would like to suggest that we at least re-introduce the offertory prayer on Sundays because the words are one of gratitude: “all things come from you and of your own do we give you”. It is an act of worship and recommitment as well as a decision to give what we have to Him. And so as we pray the prayer next Sunday we will acknowledge all that God has given us but also all of the offerings made during the week – financially through standing orders, and also through time and love shared with others.

Thank you for bearing with us over the coming months as we investigate how best to replace the irreparably broken boiler. Please consider wearing an extra layer on Sundays – blankets are also available!

A new year also offers the chance to start again with intentions to read the bible in one year or simply to commit to reading the bible and spend time with God each day. There are many apps and websites you can use. Start today!

In my own reading from the last few days, I have been struck by some early moments in Genesis. The first question that God asks in the bible is “Where are you?” to Adam and Eve as they hide in shame. And again, as Hagar is rejected by Sarai after birthing Ishmael God says to Hagar: “Where are you going?”– we have a God who actively pursues us and wants to spend time with us whatever we have done and however we feel. Let’s respond by giving him time each day to speak to us and to give us his peace and joy!

So, welcome to 2023! May it be a year of blessing for each of you and may you grow closer to God and to others through it.