NEW BEGINNINGS AT CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR
For me, Christmas begins several times. On 1st December, or when we actually buy our Christmas tree, it feels Christmas is beginning. However there are other times too: when the schools finish for Christmas, when we celebrate Christingle, when we attend our service of Nine Lessons and Carols, or when Christmas Day finally arrives.
For clergy, often it feels that Christmas begins family-wise when the last service has been completed and we finally go home to a home filled with the savoury smell of slowly roasting turkey. While the turkey is finishing off in the oven, I have a particular tradition at Christmas of raising a glass of cider to my late dear mother, who had strict views on the need for temperance and used to unwittingly pour all her children a glass of cider at Christmas, with the words “no alcohol, only cider”!
Whether it’s touched by loss or other challenges, Christmas and the imminent arrival of New Year is actually a wonderful time to think about new beginnings. That baby in a manger would go on to conquer death and offer to us forgiveness, the hand of friendship and the chance of a personal new beginning.
In John 14 v6 Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth and the life, no-one comes to the Father but by me.” It’s a bold claim, but our response to these words will affect our eternal destiny.
Why not make it your New Year’s resolution finally to do a proper investigation of faith issues? Our Alpha Express Course starting 9th February uses a format which has helped millions come to faith and our more “arts-based” discussion groups based on the issues raised by the musical Les Miserables starting the same night, with a special film showing earlier on 3 February also gives people a chance to engage with faith issues in a supportive and relaxed environment.
My prayer is that the start of the New Year will mark for you a spiritual new beginning.
Wishing you every blessing this Christmas and New Year