New Year is often a time when we look back over the past year, remembering the good and the bad times that we have experienced; assessing whether it has been a good year or not. So, what has your year been like? I suppose 2018 might be remembered for its weather; the heavy snow we had in March and the hot summer with very little rain. Or, for the endless discussions about what Brexit would look like, with no one knowing for sure, but with many having a strong opinion on it. For some it will be remembered for the wedding of Megan Markle to Prince Harry in St Georges’ Chapel, Windsor and the amazing long sermon preached by the American Bishop Michael. For others it could be the performance (or the lack of it) of their football team. 2018 could hold a deep sadness for the passing of a loved one, or the struggle through ill health by a family member.
Personally, a highlight in my year was going to Malawi for my son, Chris’s wedding and welcoming Sharifa into our family, and becoming a Grandma to Elijah. The flights to and from Malawi were long and arduous but so well worth it for the quality time we had with our family and for the experience of Africa that I had never had before.
A highlight for the church and village community must be the creation of the WWI “Tommy” outline filled with hand-knitted/crocheted poppies which we hung on the church tower. Such an amazing work of art made possible by the knitting and crocheting and crafting by so many; visited by endless visitors from far and wide and photographed and shared worldwide on social media. A significant achievement this year has been the response to needs through The Pantry Scheme with more and more people supporting the project and giving food which is distributed to people in need, through crisis or sickness, within the villages of Belton & Burgh Castle. All Saints Church, Belton works with Moorlands Academy consistently throughout the year, leading collective worship twice a week and contributing in various ways to the life of the school. Some of the highlights for me are the workshops at Easter and Christmas when the children come into church to enjoy a prayer space constructed in the chancel, singing, and activities that help them learn more about the subject in hand. At Easter the older group enjoyed using a hammer and nails to create a heart or a cross, then needlework silks to finish it off, as well as a huge rainbow made from buttons which is intended for the school hall. This Christmas we made holly wreaths that told the Christmas story, and beautiful Christmas cards with a swinging angel containing the Christmas message.
In May, in the 10 days leading from Ascension Day to Pentecost, the church joined with many churches nationally and internationally to pray “Thy kingdom come”. It was an opportunity to pray as individuals but also to join for special events. At All Saints we created a prayer labyrinth where we walked through two party tents erected inside the church to several “prayer stations” focussing on different parts of the Lord’s Prayer. Hundreds and hundreds of fairy lights lit the way and what an experience it was to pray in this creative way – one not to forget and one to be repeated in the coming year, I hope. Many of the children at Moorlands Academy also came to join in and learn to pray the Lord’s Prayer. As I sit writing this and thinking of the New Year, my mind is saying let’s get Christmas over first! So often we hear the phrase Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year; it’s what we say! Yet for many “Merry” and “Happy” are not words that describe their experience; the highlights of the year may be few or non-existent and the struggles great. The Bible talks about God’s gift of joy and peace which can be ours in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. Joy and peace that we cannot attain for ourselves but are gifted to us by God when we seek him. So, may I wish you a joyous and peace-full 2019 through Jesus, the Christ-child, who is for every day, not just for Christmas.
Every blessing to you and yours.