Happy New Year!
None of us really knows what those three words mean even though we say them every year. Is it our belief that every moment of every day can be filled with happiness? Is it just a good wish as a new year begins? If so does one day really make a lot of difference? Doesn’t the 1st of January look a lot like the 31st of December?
What we are really expressing is a wish. We wish people well; we express a hope for good things to come with a new year, a fresh start in our lives. In truth we don’t know what 2012 will bring but we do know it will be a momentous year for three reasons.
Firstly it is the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen. If my knowledge of history serves me well, it will only be the second occasion that any British monarch has reached that milestone. No doubt we will all have our own ways of celebrating this event – and be grateful for an extra day’s holiday on 5th of June.
Then of course we have the Olympic Games from 27th July to 12th August. Not only that but the torch relay is passing through Bishop’s Stortford on 7th July. If you are lucky enough to have Olympic tickets then you are ahead of me. When she heard that we had been awarded the games, my sister phoned me from Italy and said, “Can you get me a ticket for the final of the 100 metres?” I said that that would be no problem and how many would she like? Fortunately her sense of English irony was still quite strong!
Well if you are a republican and a sport hater is there anything happening in 2012 for you? Of course, the answer is a big yes. These other events pale into insignificance compared to the real event of 2012: this year we will be opening our new centre. It is really coming. After 13 years of prayer and planning it is really happening.
So as you might expect our focus in 2012 is: Building the Church, but that’s not to do with erecting a building, it is about growing as the Body of Christ. The building is a step along the way. It is a tool to help us in our task. It is our belief that God wants to build His Church and that we are here to co-operate with that purpose. The actual centre will be completed in the summer, but that work of building the Church will not completed until God decides it is ready.
Actually that is the most exciting prospect. It will be fantastic to have new facilities. Many of you have served the church faithfully over these past years using substandard facilities. You’ve been tireless in setting out equipment and putting it away again afterwards. You’ve done remarkable things to keep us on the road, keep us moving forward. It will be great when you can just concentrate on the quality of what you do without the distraction of having to put everything back in the box afterwards. But having the new facility is not the most exciting thing. The most exciting prospect is building the Kingdom. We believe that God loves the people around us and wants them to come to a saving knowledge of Him and His love expressed through the cross of Christ.
So as we enter a significant new year for us let me leave you with the Bible verses that have been my life verses, the verse that God has used again and again to challenge and encourage me personally:
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
I wish you all a very happy New Year.
Yours in Christ,