“Any new beginning is forged
from the shards of the past, not from the abandonment of the past.”
― Craig D. Lounsbrough Professional counsellor and life coach
Having formed a vague idea of what I wanted to write in this first
letter of 2019, I headed to the internet to search for any wise or interesting quotations regarding the New Year which might
help make me seem more erudite. There were a few which were thought-provoking but didn’t work with what I wanted to
write. And there was a lot of fluffy, feel-good stuff about the first day of the New Year being a blank page, with 365 more
to write on and similar guff.
But the above did stand out, as it is something which fitted well with my thoughts but is also something which is
very Christian. It’s Christian in that God takes us as we are, with all our good and bad, all our mistakes and successes,
all our weak faith and bold Christian living, and forms something ever-new from this jumble of our lives: the future is shaped
by, and from, the past. And God, through his love and power, can bring a new creation to birth in us: we are not condemned
by our mistakes; we only condemn ourselves when we believe they cannot be forgiven; that we cannot move away from them as
a new creation. So, I considered Mr Lounsbrough’s words to be a natural fit with Christian theology about salvation.
But they are words which also undergird what my message is at the
beginning of this New Year. Since I arrived at St Martin’s in September 2014 there have been a number of things which
I have talked about wanting to do, and further things which the members of the Church Council have been considering changing
or introducing to the life of our Church and its members. Some of these have happened (for example: setting a budget, introducing
some services which are more inclusive of children taking part, praying around the village, becoming more visible in our community
through engagement with schools, sheltered housing and so on) and some are actively being pursued (a new heating system for
the church, developing materials about the church and its history and training interested people to grow in their confidence
to speak with others about this information are well on the way to bearing fruit).
There are other things, though, that have got a bit ‘lost’,
delayed or which have fallen by the wayside. I want it to be our New Year’s resolution as a church and as individuals
to re-ignite and rescue most of these. These include things like the Bible study groups, the ‘Friends of St Martin’s’,
the regular schedule of prayer for all the streets around the parish, occasional themed activity afternoons for children and
over-hauling the information of the Church website. All have begun to be organised or developed and then, for various reasons,
have become side-lined or halted. These five that I mention should all be in place during the course of this year, as I am
determined that we will pick up the process of actively developing each of them.
To this end, there will be two opportunities later this month to
engage in some Bible study together, looking at some of the familiar Christmas readings and considering them afresh. Following
on from this I anticipate that some regular Bible study groups will be formed meeting in various locations around the parish.
In the coming weeks I will be revisiting each of the other four things I mention to ensure that they are all on track. So
do keep your ear open in church as there will be occasional updates about them all given in the weekly notices.
busy-ness of life can distract us away from the things that are important. And one of the things that I’ve always found
it’s easy to be distracted away from is regular prayer. Yet this is vital as we undertake our daily Christian living
– and vital as we develop new ideas or patterns of worship, service and life as a Christian community. Thank you for
all of you who, in multitudinous ways, help support the ministry and mission of Christ’s Church here in Ashton-upon-Mersey,
and do keep all the above in your prayers in the coming weeks.
With my prayers for a blessed and happy 2019,