Dear Friends and Neighbours,
Happy New Year! I wonder what exciting things we have to look forward to this year. For some it might be the end of their academic studies and the start of a career. For others it might mark the beginning of retirement; a time to enjoy more of the moments in life that, until this point, had simply whizzed by. For others it may be that more of the same is expected if not hoped for. Stability is a good place to build from and is one of the things that the Father of traditional monasteries, a guy called St Benedict, was very keen on.
In business it was interesting to note the regional variations when it came to contracts and sticking with them. In some parts of our country when a contract had been signed it held good right up until the contract expired. In other parts of the country I wondered if the contract was worth the paper that it had been written on. Staff, their costs and their ability to stick around varied enormously from one region to another too.
The joy of our villages is that we have a huge variety of people. Some have been born, bred and lived nowhere else, and living in the most beautiful part of the whole of God's creation who could blame them. Others have only lived here for a relatively short time, either stumbling across our villages by accident, while others have moved here on purpose.
Someone wise once said that it is precisely because God loves variety that we should never judge another. One of the events that helped my decision to become an Anglican was the story of a collection of clergy who lived alongside a particular London Underground Line. Some were 'High Church' some were 'Low Church', some were married some were single, but they all met to explain and explore what had made them what they are today.
There was no rush to judgement, much less conversion, and they got to grow in wisdom and in encouragement simply by learning to appreciate each other just as they are. In much the same way as Swindon Town Football Club don't field eleven Goalkeepers on a Saturday afternoon (although you sometimes wonder if that wouldn't be such a bad idea), a rainbow wouldn't be a rainbow if all of the colours were the same. These colleagues became friends because they knew that they were appreciated for who they are, just as they are.
The thing is, they all had a bit of a head start. Knowing that all of us are made in the image of God, all of their gifts and talents had been given to them by God. Sure they had to learn some and practise others, and some gifts came as natural as breathing in and breathing out. While working with the mentally ill I never came across anyone who flourished as a result of criticism. It's not in God's DNA and for this very reason it shouldn't be in ours. So whatever the New year holds for you, I pray that you will be both loved and encouraged every step of the way.
With best wishes and prayers
If you have anything that you would like our village prayer group to pray for please telephone 790088 or