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2021 Theme: United in Faith

united in faithnew year message

 

Click here to view the Chaplain’s New Year Message video

 

 

Dear Friends,

I, along with almost everyone else in the world, seem to have been saying over and over again, “What a strange year this has been!” However, due to the vagaries of the Gregorian calendar, today marks a new beginning. 2020 is consigned to history and we have a whole new year ahead of us. I wish that I could say that all our problems were now behind us but we certainly do have some degree of light on the horizon – vaccinations have begun across Europe and a trade deal has been struck between Britain and the EU, so at least two of our on-going concerns seem to have moved into a new and more hopeful phase.

This is also the time when I try to choose a theme that will take us through the coming year. There was obviously some divine inspiration at work last year when I chose Hebrews 12:2 as a text for the year because I think that many of us have felt that it has only been by keeping “our eyes fixed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross …” that we have been able to keep on some sort of even keel throughout all the messiness of the past twelve months.

However, on one very important level, I believe that 2020 has been a good year for us and for our Chaplaincy. Little did I think, when Charlotte and I first started to explore how we might move our worship online, that this enforced separation would in itself bring many of us together in a way that has previously been impossible in our extended and far-flung Chaplaincy. Sharing our online Sunday worship, joining together for Morning and Evening Prayer through Zoom, virtual coffee mornings, house groups, study courses and meetings have all become an integral part of our community life and will, I suspect, continue to be so even after the scourge of COVID is passed. This new-found sense of unity through our shared exploring of our faith has pointed me towards our theme for 2021 – “UNITED IN FAITH” with a text from 1 Corinthians 12:27 “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (New Living Translation)

In several of his letters, St Paul uses the image of the church as a body with Christ as the head. Always he points out that, in the body, each part has an important and God-given role. I can’t help feeling that, for us as a Chaplaincy, this image has never been more apt. 2020 has been a difficult year on pretty much every level and yet, through working together with faith and with our focus firmly of Jesus, we have come out the other side in very good shape.

We have some financial challenges ahead, but no more than we’ve faced before. We have some challenges to work out how to rebuild our Sunday and weekday worship once the restrictions are lifted. We have some challenges personally as we (or at least the Brits amongst us!) come to terms with the new political relationship between the UK and the EU. And I suspect that we have some challenges ahead that we haven’t yet foreseen!

Of one thing, however, I am absolutely sure. If we continue to live our lives with our focus and faith in Christ alone, then whatever happens in the coming year, we will as a community continue to flourish, grow and become even stronger.

So I pray that you have a blessed and joyous 2021 and I very much look forward to journeying with you through the adventure that God has in store for us all.

Blessings,

 Tony Lomas