The New Year is a good time for planning and preparing, not in the rather facile manner of the ‘New Year’s Resolution’, but by forming proper intentions for the months ahead and making a commitment to carry them out. New Year might not be a Christian festival, but it resonates with the periods of reflection we undertake during the penitential seasons and also at Pentecost when we celebrate the gift of the Spirit and the fullness of life which he brings.
So why might you not undertake a little Godly planning and make a fresh commitment? The reasons are almost endless, not least because we all have our own, but given a little examination a pattern will probably emerge. Many people are too busy, distracted by work and the 21st Century media bombardment. A lot can be expected of us and it is easier to step back, afraid of exhaustion or failure. When I mentioned tiredness in a sermon a few months ago, a number of people said that it struck a chord with them. Even within the Church there can be a feeling that we are fighting a losing battle, both in the practical matters pertaining to a parish church like attendance and finance and also against the advance of secularism. It can seem as if others are in the ascendant and that the world of faith is struggling to survive. Add to this other feelings which we might have of fear, loneliness and guilt (whether justified or not) and we can find ourselves approaching despair.
But, if there are reasons not to bother planning or at least to be disheartened at the prospect of renewed efforts, are there reasons why we should at least try? Can we motivate ourselves to explore possibilities and to make a commitment to move forwards? As New Year is on the octave day of the Nativity we can hardly think about proceeding without Jesus. The stories are so familiar that it is easy to turn him into an abstract – nothing more than an idea or memory – when in actual fact he is a real person who is alive and present amongst us. That should be obvious in a church which takes Jesus’ sacramental presence seriously. That is true of St. Peter’s. From the nave it is possible to see three altars and the aumbry where the Blessed Sacrament is reserved. The worship is principally sacramental. Jesus is here.
And Jesus is also present in his Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit who transforms our lives, not just by becoming another abstract – something that is vaguely present – but by creating the conditions which enable us to engage positively with God’s kingdom. It is the Spirit who nurtures in us a sense of yearning: a yearning to know God, to understand him better and to be obedient to his call. It is the Spirit who gives us a sense of belonging, both with the persons of the Trinity and with eachother. We can then define ourselves as renewed disciples who have an awareness of Jesus’ presence, an authentic sense of vocation and a confidence in the future in the knowledge that we are part of the Kingdom of God.
From the diary
Sunday 31st December First Sunday of Christmas
no midweek services
Sunday 7th January The Epiphany of Our Lord
Wednesday 10th January, 10.00am Mass
8.00pm Guild of the Servers of the Sanctuary Mass
Friday 12th January, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 14th January Epiphany 2
In addition to services at 8am and 9.30am: Family Service at 11.15am
Wednesday 17th January, 10.00am Mass (St. Antony)
Friday 19th January, 7.00pm Mass
Sunday 21st January Epiphany 3
Wednesday 24th January, 10.00am Mass (Conversion of St. Paul, tr.)
Friday 26th January, 7.00pm Mass (SS. Timothy and Titus)
Sunday 28th January Feast of the Anniversary of Consecration
Wednesday 31st January, 10.00am Mass
Friday 2nd February, 7.00pm Mass (Presentation of Our Lord)
Sunday 4th February Sexagesima / 2 before Lent
Please return last year’s palm crosses by Sunday 4th February so that they can be burnt before Ash Wednesday.
From the Registers
17th December Emanuel Luis Pinto
Edson William da Costa Pinto
Maria Cecilia da Costa Pinto
5th December Sylvia Stanborough (aged 94 years)
Additional Curates Society (Lent boxes)
ACS works to support the provision of priests in ‘poor and populous parishes’ especially those in which the incumbent only receives a half-stipend (or no stipend at all). If you wish to have a collecting box for the work of ACS these will be available later in January at the back of church or from Fr. Andrew. Your support is very much appreciated.
A New Year Resolution
What will they do with you when you die? God has made very definite arrangements, but interim arrangements are usually made by next-of-kin for the decent disposal of bodies. The standard of funeral arranging varies enormously so make sure you leave a request with your next-of-kin that your mortal remains are laid to rest with the help of a Funeral Director rather than a Corpse Disposal Operative. Advice is available.
Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary
You may have noticed a visiting banner on the wall of the Lady Chapel in recent days. It belongs to the local branch of the Guild of the Servants of the Sanctuary (GSS) which exists to provide fellowship, training and support to altar servers. For some while the banner has resided at Christ Church, Watford, but is now resuming its tour of the churches visited by the Guild. If you would like to know a little bit more or might be interested in joining the Guild speak to Robert Snelling who serves with us on the second and fourth Sundays at 9.30am. Alternatively come along to their mass on Wednesday 10th January, 8.00pm at St. Peter’s and meet some of the members.
Thank you to everyone who contributed so generously to such a wonderful day. The final total raised was £2,700. Beyond the financial total it was a great church and community event which was very much appreciated by those who were present.
Pray for peace in the world, especially in the Holy Land and between Ukraine and Russia, but also in those places where the sufferings of many is too often forgotten.