The deep dark skies of winter, the slowly lengthening days of Spring, the seasons slowly turn and very soon it will be the anniversary of my arrival in Northumberland! I’m in the middle of planning the next few months services and am conscious that these are the last months where I don’t know what happened last year. I’ve been building on the work of others as I keep asking, what did you do last year, and what do you normally do? Of course the answers to those different questions are often different because the lingering effects of Covid on our society were still with us last year – when I came, we opened up receiving Communion in bread and wine again, and having coffee mornings was still a novelty. But when it comes to what we normally do, the answers I get are sometimes a huge discussion as people remember different things from different eras of church life, sometimes going back decades, with half a hope that we might reinstate that way of life again – we nearly always remember the more glorious things when discussing hopes for the future.
I think it’s lovely when we do remember the good things of the past. Those who suffer from depression can sometimes only remember the things that went badly or the wrongs of the past, but both good and bad combine to make the patchwork of life, and to focus on whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, is surely the way to life. If there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things, and the peace of God will come to you much more easily in the trials of today.
I’m looking ahead to Lent and Holy Week in my planning as I write, but this year also brings a coronation and I wonder what, if anything, our towns and villages will do for that and how the church can join in. And Haltwhistle may have a carnival in the summer, and if so, I was wondering about having a church float in the procession since we’re part of the fabric of what makes this area good. Plans, plans, plans. But don’t forget to give thanks for the present moment.
I wish you all the best for 2023.