January 2017 – The year ahead: making choices; making time.

The year ahead: making choices; making time

Christmas is all done and 2016 is over. As we look back over the year, we may be able to identify some highlights and sadness’s. A year of change for us personally, one highlight must be the wonderful welcome we have received from the people at the church in Walton on Thames. Another would be the summer children’s Holiday club at St John’s, and another, the service in November at which 21 adults and 7 young people were confirmed by Bishop Jo and chose to publicly declare their faith in Jesus, acknowledging the difference he is making in their lives.

January is a good time to look forward to the year ahead. What hopes, fears and resolutions do you have? One thing we would like to do is use Twitter more. January is a good time to plan leave and holidays, visits to people who are important to us and projects that we really want to do. It’s a good time to consider what really is important to us in life and actually do something about it. Sometimes we are quite good at knowing what’s important to us, but not changing our pattern of life to reflect those priorities. If we don’t put time and energy into the things that give us life, we are like trees with no roots that fall over when the wind blows.

Here is an analogy for you, imagine we are trees with roots which go down deep into the ground, with a trunk that stands strong carrying nutrients from the soil to the branches above. The branches spread wide drawing food from the roots via the trunk and on these the leaves, flowers and fruit can grow in season. We probably notice the leaves, flowers and fruit more than the rest of the tree, but they would not be there except for the support of the trunk and the stabilising and nourishing practices of the roots.

Ken Shigematsu suggests that we can learn from the Monastic practice of a rule of life and can write one for ourselves.  “A monastic rule of life can help us learn what it means to live so that we are attuned to God in our everything. A life that does more than pray sporadically, but is itself a prayer to God” (Ken Shigematsu: God in my Everything, Zondervan). There are four levels much like the tree I described earlier. The first is the roots. The three foundational practices of the roots in our lives are: Prayer – deepening our friendship with God; Bible reading – feeding on God’s word; Sabbath – the ingrained rhythm of life, a day of rest and worship. Each of these requires a choice and commitment to turn away from the culture around us of self-sufficiency, shallowness and busyness. St Paul says to the Romans: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you will know what God’s good pleasing and perfect will is.” We will bring you more from Ken about the trunk, branches and leaves in the next few editions of Radius.

As we go into 2017, is January a time to tend our roots? To consider what is really important to us and to give time to those things. Prayer, reading the Bible, rest and worship will nourish our souls and deepen our roots. The sermons in church in January and February will be focusing on who Jesus is. Jesus is foundational to our faith. We have seen the baby in the manger, we now think about the one whose cousin John the Baptist asked “Are you the one who is to come?” whose disciples said “Who is this man, even the wind and the waves obey him?” In the words of the TV programme: “Who do you think you are, Jesus?”

May God bless us all in 2017 and help us to make choices and make time for the things that are important to us, so we can live out the wonderful life that he has for us.

Happy New Year!

Jonny and Cathy