Peace and joy for the year ahead

The Right Revered Will Hazlewood, Bishop of Lewes

Thursday, 30th December 2021, 8:27 am

‘Happy New Year’ is a popular phrase that most of us will herald at this time of the year.

Our motives in saying it will no doubt be good as we wish those we love peace and joy for the year ahead.

I for one need all the encouragement I can get as we enter January.

Chichester Cathedral

A long month of dark cold nights with nothing to look forward to unless you are one of the few who count depressing credit card statements, bulging waistlines and the uncertainty of what 2022 will bring as things that are exciting.

And yet Christians, who are not immune from all that I have mentioned above do seek to have an inner glow to help them through the darkness of January.

In the western hemisphere the light of Christmas comes when the darkness is most acute.

Long after the trees, lights and decorations have been packed away we continue to celebrate light in the darkness.

The mind blowing reality of God’s love for you and me is that he comes amongst us, is born for us bringing a light that cannot be extinguished, for God is with us to the end of time.

In many homes and churches across the world the crib will remain in a prominent position until early February as we reflect on the theme of light that this child brings into our world.

We will reflect on the wisemen who remind us that God’s love and light is for all people; for each of us is unconditionally loved by this child of the crib.

We will reflect on the abundance of God’s love; that he seeks to call us his sons and daughters through the water of baptism.

Finally, in the slowly lightening days of February we hear the words of an old man, Simeon, as he gazes on the Christ child and declares this child is the light to lighten the whole world.

So whatever we face this January, remember that God is with us and this light will never be overpowered.

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Dates for your Diary

Churches across the country will be gathering onsite and online this Advent and Christmas and you’re invited to a service or event. A Church Near You is the website where you’ll find your local worshipping community and discover what’s at the heart of Christmas. Just type in your location, and select the correct option from the drop-down list: www.achurchnearyou.com

• ‘At the heart of Christmas’ is the Church of England’s theme for Advent and Christmas 2021. You can sign up to receive Christmas Reflections by email from December 24 to January 6. There is also an app, available to download for free on Apple and Android devices: www.churchofengland.org/our-faith/what-we-believe/advent-and-christmas/heart-christmas-our-2021-advent-and-christmas

• DailyHope is a free national telephone line, offering music, prayers and reflections as well as full worship services from the Church of England at the end of the phone. The line – which is available 24 hours a day on 0800 804 8044 – has been set up particularly with those unable to join online church services in mind; to provide comfort and spiritual nourishment to the most isolated in our society.