January is a funny month. Christmas festivities have come to an end, often with a New Year party, although in the Church calendar, in spite of the fact that we journey through the season of Epiphany, some would argue that Christmas doesn’t finish until the feast of Candlemas on February the 2nd.
At Candlemas we remember Mary and Joseph presenting the infant Jesus to God. It was written in the Law of Moses that ‘Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord.’ (Luke 2. 22). When Mary and Joseph were at the temple Simeon, who God had promised wouldn’t die until he had seen the Messiah, took the infant Jesus in his arms and praised God with those wonderful words of the Nunc Dimittis
Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace according to thy word.
For mine eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people;
To be a light to lighten the Gentiles and to be the glory of thy people Israel.
Luke 2. 29-32
Of course January is also the beginning of the year. New Year resolutions have been made, and some already broken, and new diaries and calendars started. In our home we work to 3 differentyears! The first is the normal day to day year, 2014, with new calendars for each of us and a family one in the kitchen. The second is the School year running from September to the end of August. Our teenagers will get their school planners or an academic diary and a new year begins for them. The third year is one that I work to and that is the Church year. It runs from December to the end of November, so I started my new diary on the 1st December 2013. This would be very confusing if it wasn’t for the family calendar in the kitchen. Much like the bible it is where we turn to if we are unsure of what we are supposed to be doing.
January can be a time of excitement and new beginnings but it can also be a dark month for some. As bills come in people realise just how much they have overspent on an ever more commercialised Christmas, it can be a fearful time. There are many ways in which we can help those who are struggling this New Year. In the 8 months that I have been here I am amazed at how much our churches provide for those in need such as Ashford Food Bank and Operation Christmas Child.
At this time of New Year resolutions let’s make a commitment together that this year we will look out for our neighbour.
When Jesus was asked ‘Who is my neighbour?’ he answered by telling the parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10. 25-37). We are told that our neighbour is anyone who needs our help.
I wish you every blessing for this month and the year ahead.
Reverend Chris Hodgkins. (Assistant Curate of G7 Benefice)
For all the possibilities ahead in this New Year make us thankful, O Lord. Give us wisdom, courage, and discernment in the face of so much chaos, despair and fear. Help us to see how, in our circumstances, we can contribute towards peace, faith and love. And give us the will to translate our desires into actions.
(Brother John Charles Vockler)