Minister’s Letter

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Dear friends and fellow travellers in Christ

On behalf of the Church Wardens, PCCs and the congregations of St Mary Magdalene, Belmont and St Laurence Pittington, may I wish each of you a Happy New Year and a contented, fulfilled year ahead.

I hope that you had a good Christmas with friends and families, and enjoyed much happiness from the hearing the retelling of the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ in Services and Readings. Christmas should be, beyond all else, a happy time for everyone, as we remember the coming of Jesus to live on earth among us, and show us the Will of His Father, Almighty God. There surely is no happier time for anyone at Christmastide than to see the faces of children (of whatever age they are!) enjoying the festivities with their family around them and receiving family gifts given in love.

Sadly of course, we know that for many children, here and around the world, Christmas is NOT a happy time as they live out harsh times and, very often, alone. But, as we remember and pray for them now, we thank God for all organisations, like The Childrens Society and Christian Aid who are, right now, working tirelessly to bring some sense of normality to those suffering from war, famine or homelessness

But now the Christmas Season is coming to an end and we think about the year ahead. One of the ancient Roman gods was called JANUS, a god whom some people associate with January, not least because he is often depicted as having two heads which face in opposite directions. This gave him the ability to look back at what was behind and, at the same time, look forward to what was coming. And that is precisely what we as Christians should be doing right now. New Year is a time to think about the year that has just ended. Was it a good one – or are we glad it is gone? As Christ’s followers, we should be giving particular thought about that.  As we lived as Jesus’ followers during the last year, did we match the standards of life Jesus demands of us? Or, as I expect most of us will admit, were there times when we fell short. If that is the case, then perhaps we should put on the forward face of JANUS and look to what could lie ahead? How could we improve on what went wrong in 2017 and come back to Jesus’ Way, rather than our own? For that is one of the lovely things about our relationship with Jesus. We can fail Him over and over again  as we live out our lives. But, if we truly and honestly acknowledge those failings and promise to try harder to be His people, then He ALWAYS forgives us and gives us His support in our lives. So, today, as we make our New Year’s resolutions this year, let them be that we repent of all that has gone before and put our lives back into Jesus’ arms! And don’t forget that as the United Benefice is currently in a Vacancy, with no Vicar to lead his/her flock, we have an extra responsibility to our neighbours. Of course, we should always love each other as Jesus loves us. But in a Vacancy we must be even more aware of the needs of those around us – those who may be in need and need our support!!

Happy 2018 to you all

                                                              Patrick Holroyd – Licensed Lay Minister (Reader)       

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