Happy New Year to everyone!
Do you remember that famous film footage of Her Majesty the Queen standing at a dinner in the Guildhall in London and saying in her speech that 1992 had been her ‘Annus Horibilis’? The Queen said the second word ‘Horibilis’ very slowly and with real determination. 1992 of course was the year in which three of her children were separated, divorced or filed for divorce. Also, Windsor Castle was affected by an enormous fire and the damage took years to repair.
2020 has for many people been an ‘Annus Horibilis’. The Coronavirus global pandemic has caused economic hardship on a massive scale and many people have been made ill by Covid 19 or have died because of it. We have conducted many funerals over the past months of people who unfortunately succumbed to the disease. Indeed, our own church finances have been decimated and the economic impact will take years, if not decades, to get over.
When the first lockdown started in March who would have imagined that now at the beginning of 2021 we would still be dealing with government restrictions regarding social distancing and what is allowed when it comes to how we interact with each other. I am hoping and praying that we will experience some relief, sooner rather than later. With the recent developments surrounding vaccines, I’m also hoping and praying that, with an effective vaccination programme, we will be able to get back to normal as soon as possible. That means our full worship programme, our Bible study groups, our parish organisations and our schools ministry back on track.
We may not be sorry to leave the year 2020 behind, but actually, amongst all the gloom and doom, there has been much to celebrate. The sterling work done by NHS workers and other key workers, the community pulling together to help each other and the help being given to those who need help, to just name a few instances of human kindness.
Sometimes we feel that the world is a terrible place and that people are not as caring as they once were, but the selfless acts we have seen this year have made me for one appreciate what lengths people will go to help their fellow human beings. Jesus calls us to be loving and caring to those around us, indeed, God sent his only son at Christmastime to save us. The tiny child, whose birth we have just celebrated, came into the world to make a huge difference, and a difference he certainly made. The difference that Jesus made to the world is still being felt by us today. The Three Wise Men, who visited the newborn King at Epiphany were the representatives of all the people of the world as Jesus was revealed to them.
Jesus continues to be revealed to us today. That revelation gives us a unique opportunity to proclaim the Gospel afresh and New Year is a time when we can think about renewal and re-birth.
I am asking you to join with me in making 2021 a year of prayer and rebuilding. A year of prayer, as we pray for a furtherance of God’s Kingdom in this area, and a year of rebuilding, to enable us to re-connect with our community through our community links and our parish organisations.
If we all work together to improve our future we can lay to rest the year 2020. It’s onwards and upwards in 2021. Let’s remember those who have been affected by Covid 19, those who have died and those who are bereaved. Let’s remember before God the work of key workers and give thanks for their dedication and let’s pray for ourselves so that we can work for a better future together.
I hope you have a very Happy and Prosperous New Year.