10. Jan, 2020

Ros's January Greetings

HAPPY NEW YEAR?

Each year I take the New Year period as a time for reflection. I look back over the prevjous year with all of its events. I remember the times of joy as well as the challenging, sad or discouraging times. I consider the lessons I've learned and hope to see how I have changed during the year, hopefully for the positive rather than the negative! I also extend this to include us as a church.

Out of this time of reflection, I've been encouraged. During this last year we have struggled, but I think we are in good heart. We have pulled together, worked together and supported each other. The year ended with both celebration and sadness. We feel grief due to the death of Margaret who has been such a cornerstone of the church over many decades. But we are also feeling incredible joy at the birth of Olivia to Emily and Adam.

My reflection also looks forward into the year we are entering and in this case, a new decade. I bring my hopes and fears before God. On a personal note there are a number of imminent fears, but more hopes than fears. On a church note similarly there are fears regarding our small number, our finances and the demands of an older building. These fears keep me grounded in reality and help to focus my prayers. Being an optimist by nature, the fears are overridden by my hopes, my hopes that this will be the year when God breaks into people's lives and takes us by surprise once again.

It is one thing to look back on the past and another to look forward, but it is also important to live in the present, and to allow the highs and lows to speak into the present, having learned the lessons from them, but not being weighed down by them.

As part of my reflections I went for an amble around the lakes which form part of the lower estate at Hardwick Hall. i took my camera with me so progress was very slow, but this gave me plenty of time to ponder. There were two themes that became evident. One was to do with trees. I kept noticing the shapes that they formed with their branches, something you only notice in windter when there are no leaves hiding them. Each tree was different. Some of them had been pruned or had become misshapen by difficult conditions. Others had died completely. Some of them had nooks and crannies where animals could hide or build their nests. Some were leaning at odd angles. But I kept reminding myself that the sap would start rising in most of them, and the leaves, flowers and fruit would follow. I was reminded that each of us is unique and shaped by our experiences. We will grow in different ways but we will hopefully mature, flower and bear fruit.

The other theme was that of streams. In places streams fed into the lakes, and in other places streams flowed out from them. The lakes were not stagnant, but life-giving. It was breezy and there were ripples on the surface. My thoughts were drawn to the Holy Spirit who is described both as wind and as a stream or river. It was good to have a timely reminder of the difference the Holy Spirit makes and our need for him in our lives - both flowing in to empower us but also flowing out in our actions and character.

All this was brought together for me in the words of Psalm 1:

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and nigth. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither - whatever they do prospers.

May this year be blessed by God for each one of us and together as a fellowshio.

Ros