Dear friends,

 A very New Year to you all!

Only a short time ago we were singing wonderful Christmas Carols and many of us were visited by friends and family, and were enjoying parties, rich food and perhaps the smallest of ‘tipples’ now and again to welcome the joy of that period, to share gifts and to be grateful for small mercies.

As we begin 2024 our hearts must yearn for a better year.  A year without stress and anxiety, concerns about the cost of living and thoughts of war and violence that seem to surround us.  But we should never be downhearted because, as the American novelist, Isaac Marion said: We are where we are, however we got here. What matters is where we go next – and he is right!

Life is very much a journey, and on that journey, we take many different turns, make numerous choices, and meet new people as part of our coming to where we are at the moment.  On January 6th we think of a special journey made by the Magi, who were distinguished foreigners and specifically mentioned in the Gospel of Matthew and in the Christian tradition. They were philosophers who travelled for many days following the Star that led them to visit our Lord after his birth in Bethlehem, and they brought him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Traditionally, the Magi are referred to as the Three Kings, mainly because of the three gifts that were offered to Jesus the King of Kings, but there is no certainty that there were actually three of them.  That said, it does not prevent us enjoying the Epiphany hymn We three Kings of orient are, bearing gifts we traverse afar.  This was our Lord’s Epiphany, his showing, his revelation to the gentiles to the whole world and not just to the Jewish nation.

This was the moment that the Son of God came for everyone.

The weather is much colder and we tend to insulate ourselves, wrapping up and wearing scarves but try not to be insular and cut yourselves off from one another.  Why not come to the coffee morning on Tuesdays and spend time with others enjoying a cake or some toast or tea cakes with a hot drink.  Even in such weather, or in times of loneliness, company and having a good chat is of great value.  Try it!

Let us look forward to the New Year with renewed hope and being grateful for the past but always anticipating new challenges and looking to the future to see what is to come in our lives and who might make the difference for us.

Our Lord is here and is with us.  May his peace be with you and may his blessings be upon you.

The Reverend Fr Ronald Croft