So here we are…..we have now left 2020 and arrived in 2021. 2020 feels like a lost year doesn’t it, from the things that we weren’t able to do and the people we were not able to spend time with. We are also very conscious of all those who have suffered in 2020 with the loss of a loved one, or being unwell, or the loss of work. In the coming year we do need to help and support each other especially those who have been and continue to go through difficult times.
This time last year, none of us would have guessed what was going to happen through the Covid Virus itself, and equally the consequences of it, in both lives and the economy. However, the Good News is that with the various vaccines on the horizon, there is now thankfully some real light appearing at the end of the long tunnel we have been in, and which is giving us some much needed hope. People have been through so much in 2020 and my prayer, and I am sure yours too, is that 2021 will be better.
So 2020, it would not have been a year we would have chosen to have happened, but it did, and so now it seems to me that the most important question is how should we respond as we move into 2021? Well as a year we want to forget closes and a new one starts, we will I am sure be saying with added conviction that it is a moment to make a NEW START, TURN OVER A NEW LEAF and make that NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION to change for the better.
In my previous comments, I have written about what I think are some of the big lessons and changes we need to make – I have repeated some of my key thoughts below, or if you have a moment, please do read my previous comments which you can find on the St Peter’s website: https://www.stpetersbw.org.uk/category/james-blog/
Assuming what I have written is something of what we need to change, for me the even bigger question is how? It is one thing to work out what needs to change, but quite another to find the power to make the change!
At the end of last year, you may have read about the story of the artist Tracey Emin who was diagnosed with serious bowel cancer. The doctors didn’t give her much hope, but after major surgery, against all the odds, she is recovering and the doctors are calling her the ‘miracle woman’! She has said about herself: ‘I feel like I have been forgiven and like a great curse has been lifted off me…I feel like this is the real true beginning of my life…I am on the cusp of something and there is now no messing about.”
My thoughts as a Christian are that Tracey Emin has gone through the kind of experience that we all need to make real change from a way of life we want to leave behind and move towards a new way of life. In the bible, it doesn’t use the language of self-resolution or self-help to make a change, but rather that we need to be changed so we can change. The bible calls this being ‘born again’ which is about dying to the old life and coming alive into a new kind of life. For a human being to change, there needs to be a change on the inside if there is to be change on the outside, and that has to be a death and life experience…something that is bigger and more important so that we want to change everything else.
The Christian message, which we have just thought about again at Christmas, is about God who came to be like us, forgive what we have done wrong in life to date and to save us. Jesus is someone who helps us face death and difficulty with real certainty (even if it is still hard) because there is a new life on offer now and beyond death. It is only this kind of belief and power that really make us want to change and live differently. My prayer is that as a world, country, community and individuals, we will see 2021 as a great opportunity to be re-born into and towards a new and better life.
If you would like to know more about what God to say about all of this, please do take a moment to read the story below of when Jesus met a man called Nicodemus.
With my prayers that we might all live differently in 2021
Revd James – Rector St Peter’s Bishop’s Waltham and Blessed Mary, Upham
What would be good to NOT go back to normal? (because it wasn’t normal or good before)
Community v Individualism – life is about playing our part with other people in the place that we live
Family v Fracture – life is about appreciating each other as husband, wife, mum, dad, sister and brother
Friendship v Forgetting – life is about valuing friendship rather than forgetting to make contact
Needs v Wants – life is about focusing more on what we need than always want
Time v Rushing – life is about taking time and not always rushing to the next moment
Quality v Quantity – life is about the quality of what we have than always the quantity
Creativity v Consumerism – life is about being creative not just consuming
Contentment v Happiness – life is doing what is right and good than just our individual happiness
Love v Like – life is about the full breadth and depth of love not just love in terms of what we like
Communication v Silence – life is about taking the initiative to make contact not staying quiet
God v No God – life is about knowing God and trusting in him when life is uncertain
Life ‘Before Covid’ to Life ‘After Covid’
BC we were AC we are now….
Fixed v Flexible we have learned to be much more flexible with new ways of doing things
Inertia v Innovation we know how to adapt much better and have developed new business models
Offline v Online we are much more efficient and productive in our home/office working
Sprinting v Sustainable we have made changes to live more sustainably e.g., less consumption/waste
Profit v Personal we are developing a better economic model of ‘profit for people’
Imbalanced v Balanced we are better at blending work, rest and play e.g., our priorities/diary planning
Same v Varied we appreciate difference much more e.g., the local and personal
Outward v Inward we are more self-aware of who we need to be e.g., our values come first
The Story of Nicodemus
3 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
For God So Loved the World
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”
26th December 2020