December?!.... how did that happen? Yes it really is December, and another Christmas is approaching with a flurry of carol services, Christmas trees, wrapping paper, tinsel, sparkly lights and the Christ Child in the Manger. I often find myself surprised that the end of one year and the dawn of the New Year arrives so quickly, and the impending arrival of 2017 is no exception. For me, the end of one year, and the beginning of the new, is a time to look back and to reflect. As a family 2016 was a momentous year, a year that marked huge changes for us. We moved house, seen the changes in our family make-up, there’s a new environment to explore, new friends. We’ve had much to mourn, much to be thankful for and much to reflect upon.
From time to time I look back to the day of my ordination in 2012, a day of wonderful memories, a day that marked a huge turning point, a day of a new start. The time from then until now has flown by! Much of my life seems to happen in a hurry, but that’s not unusual for many folk, life is fast paced, a relentless push to get things done and on to the next thing! But as I look back to my ordination day I remember with clarity a moment before the big service in Hereford Cathedral, as I and the other candidates stood robed and ready for the service with Bishop Anthony Priddis. We gathered for a moment to pray, and Bishop Anthony was offering a few words of encouragement and reassurance (I wonder how scared we looked?).
“Enjoy the moment”, he said, “Be in the present, don’t worry about remembering what comes next, just be in the moment”, very wise advice specifically offered to carry us through the formality of a long ceremony, but the advice has stayed with me, and I have tried to live it every day. 2016 has been full of ‘moments’ to be savoured, there’s been so many people to meet, and grow to love. Standing at the front of our benefice churches, in praise and worship. The moments when preaching when I’ve been aware that I’ve carried people with me. Standing with the bereaved, hoping that in the midst of their grief that they do know that I care. But I’ve also loved the ‘little’ moments too, the conversations over a cuppa, the ‘chance’ encounters in the street or pub, the quietness as the church has emptied of people and peace descends, the moment I’ve spotted a jaffa cake on the biscuit plate and know someone thought about me (…well they are my favourite!), the hug of a colleague and friend… and it’s the living in the moment that leads to contentment, and a thankfulness.
Many people have asked me over recent months whether I’ve settled in, to new churches, a new home, a new life and my answer is yes, I have settled…. I have settled in to a new mindset… determined to enjoy the moment, to engage with the here and now! And so I reflect on the past, thankful for all that it’s taught me. I look forward to the future, in hope…. but mostly I live in the moment and enjoy what’s right here, right now and I hope to encounter you there, in the moments with me!