Russell’s New Year’s Newsletter
Never, in my lifetime, have people longed for one year to end and a new one to begin. 2020 has been a year to forget, but a year we will never forget. So now our hopes are pinned on 2021.
However, a new year merely marks an arbitrary way of measuring time that, as human beings, we have found useful. I am not immortal. I am getting older. In order to remind me of these, sometimes, harsh truths, it is useful to have to create lots of new folders, every 12 months, on my computer in order to store files in that are now labelled ‘2021’ rather than ‘2020’. Similarly, when I have to click on my date of birth in an online application form, it now takes SO long to scroll down to the year of my birth, my mouse needs to be recharged by the time I get to the correct year! It’s a simple reminder: ‘I’m not as young as I used to be!’
Hence, I am slightly hesitant to pin my hopes on an arbitrary measure of time. Instead, I need my hopes pinned on something more substantial. If the previous 12 months have taught me anything, they have urged me to reconsider what is of ultimate importance. Now all I long for is a hug from a family member; now all I long for is to be able to sing (out of tune, but joyfully nevertheless) a Christmas carol on Christmas Day in Church; now all I long for is to be able to meet up with family and friends and not have to worry about how far apart we are; now all I long for is to be able to feel safe in a large crowd; now all I long for is to be able to travel and visit familiar places and discover new ones.
In the meantime, however, there is still much to wonder at and more than enough to keep me going. For whilst I long for many things I used to take for granted, I now know there is much to celebrate in the here and now. There is joy in unwrapping Christmas presents on a conference call with family at the other end of the country; there is joy in taking a healthy post-Christmas walk, taking time to enjoy creation as well as working off some excess Christmas weight; there is joy in worshipping together with friends on the other side of the world on Christmas Eve; there is joy in knowing that some people are having a Christmas feast because members of the church have reached out to them in a spirit of generosity; there is joy in seeing the creative ways in which people have not been deterred in their celebrations even though they have been very different at Christmas 2020.
Humanity’s need to measure time in some linear form is more than matched by our ability to celebrate life even though life may be different at the moment. I believe this is rooted in an underlying spirit of love, joy, peace and hope which sustains us and that is also part of our DNA. I want to name that Spirit as God. You cannot lockdown God. You cannot contain God. You cannot resist God. God sustained us in 2020 and I know God will sustain us in 2021.
May you know the presence of love, joy, peace and hope in the New Year, whatever it may bring. Thank you for being channels of that same Spirit to myself and my family over recent weeks.
With love and prayers, Russell
Posted – 1 January 2021