Dear Friends: New Year

Dear Friends,

Happy New Year! I hope you all had a good Christmas, and thank you for your cards
and good wishes. Jamie and I had a lovely few days with my sister and her family,
including her 2 new grandsons, and my mum who is doing amazingly well at 93.

Back home, in my spare time, I’ve been painting panto scenery for a drama group in
Iver. I love doing this – it’s great to have so much space and to work on a huge
scale. It’s also good to work with a skilled stage crew and a designer who not only
plans what each scene will look like, but how the scene changes are to be managed.
(This is after the infamous show when I painted a whole backdrop, only to find that it
couldn’t be used because, once everything else was on stage, there wasn’t room to
get it into place).

For the three Saturdays of set-building, our team works alone. I’ve not seen the
script; I don’t know who is in the cast, what the costumes or songs are like. Other
people have been working separately on all those things and more. But on the
Sunday before the first night, it all comes together. The cast get to rehearse on
stage, in costume, with props and scenery, with the live band; the sound and light
people make final adjustments; the dressing rooms get organised. All the people
who have been working in isolation or in small teams bring in their contribution and
get to see it in the context of the whole show.

At first it’s chaos. Nothing is quite ready; the cast are thrown by the novelty and
forget their lines; people are rushing round in a mad search for lost scripts/ missing
tights/spare bulbs/the last vestiges of the director’s sanity. Eventually, though, with
goodwill on all sides and some last-minute adjustments, it all falls into place. It’s a
wonderful moment. Here is something so much more than our individual efforts,
where all our skills complement each other, where all our hard work is supported and
magnified by the hard work of so many others.

It’s like this in our life of faith. Often, we work out our faith as individuals, praying,
reading scripture, trying to live a good life. That’s fine, but sometimes we can feel
that it’s all down to us. When we gather as church, we’re reminded that we’re not on
our own; that our faith is supported and magnified by the faith of others. And it’s not
just this congregation – we are also part of something bigger again, the whole
Christian church across the world, through the ages; we are part of the kingdom of

It’s good to remember, especially in times when we are struggling or feel weary, or
when we are not able to join in worship with others, that all that we are, and all that
we do, is our contribution to the kingdom of God, and all the blessings of that
kingdom are ours.

Wishing you every blessing for the rest of 2023,