Welcome to 2014!
I cannot escape the inevitable and inevitably January is a time for looking back and forward. As you probably know, January is named after the Roman god Janus who had two faces so that he could look both backwards and forwards at the same time. He was thought to be the god of beginnings and endings and hence of doors, gates and time.
So let me look backwards for a moment. What I need to say is thank you. Thank you for 2013. It was not the year that I expected, nor indeed was it the year that many of us expected. In my case I had little idea that the year would be barely a month old when I would suffer my accident. That reshaped the year for everyone in leadership. I cannot say enough just how grateful I am to everyone that found themselves with a major unexpected crisis and who responded so amazingly. Thank you to everyone that had to fill in for me. Thank you too to everyone that supported Steph and I so well. We had work parties in our garden and people shifting furniture. You were all amazing. Thank you again.
It has been great to welcome many new people during this past year and I hope very much that you are beginning to feel at home here and part of the family. We have had some great times during 2013 as well as some challenging times. As Trevor, Martin, Simon and I sat in our last Elders Meeting of the year we were sharing some of the things that God has done among us. “I hope,” someone said, “that everyone has a sense of how far we have travelled in this past year.”
We had just sat for a couple of hours discussing the issues that we are seeking to address – they are issues about growth, the kind of problems you want to have! We have been so grateful to the Lord for the partnerships that we are developing in the community; for individuals who have come to us in the past year; for growth, encouragement and challenge that God is bringing into the lives of so many of us.
For many of us 2013 was also a pretty tough year. My absence gave many opportunities to some but to others it also gave a number of difficulties. There have also been sad pastoral situations in many lives. Some will say a glad farewell to 2013.
This, of course is the pattern of life. I can’t look forward to 2014 and say that everything going forward will be rosy. Happily though we know the true God, the God of beginnings and endings, the God of opportunities, the God of time. Not the Roman god carved in stone but the Living God who came to us in flesh and blood. That’s what we have just been celebrating, Immanuel, God with us. So that’s why we can say with confidence along with the Apostle Paul that I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day. (2 Tim 1:12) He will be with us in 2014 as we deal with all that life has to offer and as we attempt great things for Him.
Yours in Christ