Dear Friends,

I am writing these words a few days before Christmas 2017, but I guess it will be 2018 by the time you read.  At the stroke of midnight on 31st December we will have taken that step into a New Year. 

As we look back over 2017, there will be much that has brought us joy, peace and encouragement, and it is right that we should thank God for these things, because we all have so many blessings in our lives.  But as I write on a very grey and damp December afternoon, I am only too aware that this year has brought grief, pain, suffering and bewilderment to many. The arena bomb attack in Manchester shocked us all, as did the Grenfell Tower fire a few weeks later.  But then just a few days ago the pain and suffering came very close to our own community as four children from one family tragically lost their lives in a house fire in Walkden. St John the Baptist’s Church opened its doors to many during the days afterwards, and also held a very moving and dignified service to remember those four children and their mother, still desperately ill in hospital. 

Just two days before the end of term, staff and pupils at St Paul’s Peel Primary School, where I am a governor and take weekly assemblies, were shocked and saddened by the sudden death of one of their teachers, and their end of term Christingle service had a very reflective feel to it as their sense of loss was shared.  The prayers, written and read out by Y5 children, showed the depth of feeling they had for their teacher.

But in their Christingles they saw the light of Christ, the lit candle a sign of hope and faith.  And with that hope and faith came a commitment to shine as lights in the world, to take the Light of Christ to those who need it in very dark times.  And what better New Year’s Resolution can there be than that?  2018 will bring times of joy, and we know it will bring sorrow too, but as Christians we know that in our joy and our sorrow, God will never leave us.

Resolutions are easy to make and easier to break, and perhaps we make them with that in mind.  But a commitment to take the light of Christ to those who need it is a bit different.  You can’t plan out exactly how you will do it because you don’t know who God will put into your path each day, but you can give yourself a few pointers.  Who would appreciate a phone call, letter or visit from you?  Who can you give a kind word or gesture to?  Who is going through a hard time that can you offer to pray for?  Who can you invite to join you at a church service?

A simple prayer each morning is “Lord, today show me who I can share your light with by my words, my actions and my time.”  And then go about your day with your eyes and ears and see who he sends your way!

So let’s commit ourselves this year, as individuals, as churches and as the Farnworth, Kearsley and Stoneclough Team, to shine as lights in the world, in whatever way we can, blessing others and in turn being blessed ourselves as we bear the light of Christ.

Sister Dorothy