For all that has been…. Thanks. For all that will be…. Yes!
A new year brings the opportunity of a fresh start, and for many reading this article the year 2016 may not have been the best and you will be glad to see the beginning of a new year. I quite understand that! For others there will be a mixture of good memories and less happy ones and there is a choice as to whether we dwell on past difficulties or look forward to what the new year offers.
In many places in the Bible there are quotes that urge the reader to hold on to or focus on the good; to be thankful in all circumstances and to let go of the negative experiences of life that can drag us down. I know that is easier said than done, but it is good advice, and something I try to live by.
This past year in the churches there have been many things to celebrate and remember with thanksgiving:
The wonderful work that Jean has done with the children and young people of Belton, both with Moorlands Academy and through Messy Church, Rock Solid, Cornerstone, Hub and Sunday Club. It is sad that she is heading home, but with new adventures planned for 2017. The amazing growth of Young at Heart, the group for the over 50s that meet on a Tuesday morning and enjoy coffee and chat, and various activities. To see the transformation of some of the members, in terms of happiness and confidence, through the companionship they have found because of this group is a delight to me.
With the Queen’s 90th Birthday we had celebrations in both parishes including church services and a party in the Rectory Garden and Burgh Castle Village Hall; I also enjoyed a very special day in Windsor with Maureen Grey at the Maundy Thursday Service in St George’s Chapel when she received Maundy money in recognition of the work she has done for the church and for the village.
In All Saints, Belton there is a real family atmosphere with an age range from 0-94 years of age and it is great to see younger members of the church supporting some of the older ones, and vice versa; as we seek to live as the Bible teaches us to love one another as he has loved us, in that he gave of himself so that we might have life in all its fullness.
At St Peter and St Paul we are still working on the next stage of our grant application and project. To be able to offer a good welcome and hospitality is our aim. This will involve a hoped-for kitchen area and toilet, as well as improvements to the structure of the building, heating, etc. A major building project that will hopefully ensure that the life of the church continues and thrives
The church family always seeks to rejoice with those who are celebrating and to stand alongside those who weep through sadness. It has been a privilege to conduct eighteen funerals at the churches or crematorium and to preside at five very special weddings this year (three in one day is certainly a day to remember!).
There are so many individual people, groups and experiences to be thankful for but I also want to put on record my thankfulness for a faithful God who loves you and me, whether we deserve it or not. His love remains the same yesterday, today and forever, and it is because of Him that I am here in Belton serving as Rector and looking forward to all that 2017 will bring.