Joyful January?

Dear Friends

Dark skies, wind, cold, strikes, discontent and the return of Covid?

Or, new starts, fresh hope, visits with families, dear ones returning to health, the start of a new type of house groups, the launch of our Baptism workshops, the hope of Spring?

How we feel about this time of year, can so easily be influenced by how we feel, and that can change from one day to the next.  You have often heard me quote Hebrews 11.1 ‘faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.’  As Christians our faith helps us to choose to be hopeful, rather than hopeless, to be joyful, rather than joyless, to see the best in every situation, in every person.  Am I talking about wishful thinking?  No, I don’t think so, I think faith is something deeper than that, born out of lived experience of God’s faithfulness in the past that gives us hope for the future.

So, I am choosing to be joyful this January.  For me personally, my father has just pulled through a serious illness and is now settled in a new care home for the final stages of his life.  I am so grateful that despite spending Christmas in hospital, he so enjoyed being with other people in hospital, that he decided voluntarily he would like to move into a care home.

I am joyful that I have now formed a Ministry Team with leaders from both churches – Roger, Patricia and Janet from St John’s and Hilary and Tony from St Paul’s.  All of them have been so supportive during the last year and I am already reaping the benefit of having a wider group of people to help me lead the church.  God is good!

I am also pleased that we are starting five Connect groups in February; groups that will help us to connect with God, connect with each other and connect with the wider community.  A place for support, prayer, listening, growing in faith and fun!  We have a group for newcomers at the Vicarage and two Baxenden groups and two Accrington groups including one during the day.  Look out for the leaflets coming out this Sunday 15th.

On Saturday we have our first baptism workshop, using material from Hope Explored, to help parents and godparents to learn more about the Christian faith before getting their child baptised or confirmed.  A small team have come together to lead this with me and to provide a great lunch.  Your prayers would be appreciated for this new initiative.

Finally, I am really pleased to announce the start of a new group for our Year 6,7,8 and 9s called ‘Rooted’ that will be led by Rev Paul McNally with the support of people from Rev Hugh Scriven’s churches and Mums from our two churches.  Details to follow.

I send you best wishes for the New Year, God bless, Amanda