From the Vicarage
Every New Year provides us with the opportunity to look back and to take stock; it is a time to reflect and to prepare for the year ahead.
As we look back over 2020, it has been an extraordinary year dominated by an unprecedented pandemic across the world. Alongside this, in the UK, “Brexit” has continued to dominate politics and, no doubt, will continue to consume much time and energy moving forward. As I write this, parts of the country have just been placed in Tier 4, and no agreement has been achieved on Brexit. These are uncertain and worrying times. What is clear is that few areas of life will remain unaffected by either the pandemic or the Brexit negotiations. It seems that wherever we look, nothing is as we would wish it to be – internationally, nationally, or in politics, indeed, in so many different areas of life.
This is the world in which we are called to live as Christians. It is a world, still to be fully transformed, that has been changed by the birth of Christ. It is a world in which our faith offers us hope and that informs the way in which we live. Increasingly, it will be a world in which what matters is our personal witness and integrity, and our coming together for the common good in prayer, worship and study of the Bible, as disciples of Christ. As we reflect on 2020, this is a good opportunity to reflect upon the values by which we live; those things which inform what actions are right and what actions are wrong; what matters and what doesn’t matter; where we place our trust; where we find hope and how we act; and how others come to know us and we come to know them – practically during times of crisis.
We all have values and those values shape our character. We show respect, act courteously, live honestly and with integrity, because these things are important to us, and to the society in which we live. By doing so we show others who we are. And, of course, for a Christian, this is not an arbitrary way of living for our values are not simply made up on the spot. Our faith gives us a particular perspective – a way of looking at, and seeing things, differently. We have seen many examples of “faith in action” during 2020 as we help and support one another.
An authentic, core value, which shapes our character, is something that is within us. We intuitively know that only by living by our authentic, lasting, core values, can we truly be ourselves. They inform the moral compass by which we navigate life – they show others the person we are and what we stand for.
The Bible makes it very clear that showing respect, honouring the other person, and living with a proper sense of gratitude for blessings received, are among those core values which are not optional, but essential for living a good life. What matters is living a life of holiness. Holiness, which is a gift from God, and which is not the same as goodness, kindness, gentleness or intelligence, although it may include those virtues as well as others. It is a quality that always lies beyond ourselves and which gives others a glimpse of that reality which is lived in us and through us, but which is not ours:
“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2.20)
May 2021 be a time when we move beyond the pandemic and Brexit and grow in holiness so that the life that is in each of us finds its true expression in the life we are called to live.
With my love and prayers for 2021