Tag Archives: new year

Emmanuel

A couple of years ago, at the start of the long summer holidays my eldest daughter asked me if I’d help her dye her hair purple.  I agreed on two conditions – one, that she bought gloves so that I didn’t get purple hands and two, that (because her school requires that hair look ‘natural’) the box had the words ‘temporary colour’ on it somewhere.

Hair colour boxes lie.

The purple, while beautiful, was much more permanent than expected.  Term started and in spite of numerous washes,  her hair was still a defiant, glorious, royal purple.

Some things are just much more permanent than expected, and at this time of year I’m reminding myself that Emmanuel – God with us –  is one of them.

You see, in Wilko’s (our local everything store), Christmas tinsel has already given way to cleaning and storage products and any day now there’ll be eggs where the chocolate Santas have been and little net bags of bunnies instead of chocolate coins. In the city centre shops twinkly lights are replaced with cheery red sale stickers and although technically we still have at least two of the twelve days of Christmas left to sing about, Michael Bublé and Mariah Carey have already retreated to wherever they hide until after Bonfire Night.

The guests are gone, the puzzle is done, there are only caramel bites (shudder) left in the family tub of Roses.  It was great, but it’s over for another year.

Christmas is temporary.

But Emmanuel isn’t.

He came… and he stayed.

At first in a body, and then by his spirit, Jesus stayed.

It’s good to remind ourselves as we face the anticlimax of January, that although the season of celebration is over, the person we were celebrating is still with us.  We can pack away the nativity scene, but Emmanuel stays.  He is with us for good.

So while the world is telling me it’s time to move on, to stop the party and get back to work.  I’m remembering that this glorious invasion of royalty and colour and light into a dull dark world is real, and permanent.  God with us, not just in December, but in January and February and in every minute of every hour of every day for the whole of the year and the next.

May this year be one of God breaking through in unexpected places and unexpected times. May it be a year where each of us experiences the truth of God-walking-with-us

Emmanuel.

 

 

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Happy New Year – Hill walking

I’m quite partial to a long slow walk in the countryside, especially if it’s between tearooms. And I particularly love walking (very slowly) up hills.  My favourite bit though, is that part where you find somewhere sheltered-ish to sit in,  get out a flask of tea and a sandwich and just rest for a while and look.

Looking should be savoured. In my opinion it’s better than the actual walking… I like to look back and congratulate myself, remember the pain and the exhilaration;  look at where I am now, enjoy the view;  and look ahead to where I’d like to get to, when I feel like I’ve got the energy to get up and move again.

The first few days of a new year are an excellent time for looking.

It’s good to look back at where you’ve been.  To remember that flower-scented stretch where every step was a joy; to see the slope that seemed a particularly hard climb; even to remember with a wince the part where you slipped and fell into the thorns and yet somehow got up and carried on.  To see how faith, hope, grace and prayer have carried you through the good and the bad.

I’m sure that, like me, if you look back at the journey of 2018 there will have been a mixture of terrain: joy, challenges, pain, change, surprises, hope, disappointment and people who came and walked beside you in it all,

It’s worth taking some time to reflect, to look.

As you look, invite Jesus to sit next to you. Ask him to show you where he was, how he helped, how he felt as he walked beside you on that climb. Joys and struggles, triumph and disaster.  Ask him to show you what you did well, what you learned, how you’ve grown.

And while you’re resting with Jesus at the beginning of 2019, take a quick look through your backpack for any rocks you might have managed to pick up and carry with you this year. Lumps of unforgiveness especially have the ability to slow you down. It will really help to get rid of them now and not carry them through into the next year!

Then you’re ready to look forward. The view back is always clearer than the one in front, and although we make plans, it’s much harder to see the road ahead.  There are things we expect, hope for, plan for, are anxious about, are resolved to do differently next year,  but it’s not always easy to plot the route between them.

Remember as you’re looking at the road ahead to invite Jesus to sit beside you again.  His perspective is invaluable.  While you’re there, ask God for a word or picture that says something about what he wants you to learn or be in 2019.

So if you can, take some time in the next few days to look:

Look back,

look in your backpack,

look ahead.

and then, if you’re brave enough, look up…

… look into Jesus’ eyes and say “I’m actually not very sure where I’m going, or how I’ll get there, but I trust you to lead the way”.

 

Happy New Year – Hill walking

I’m quite partial to a long slow walk in the countryside, especially if it’s between tearooms. And I particularly love walking (very slowly) up hills.   I often come to a point in the walk or climb where I’m ready to have a little sit down.  I’m very British, so it’s a joy to me to sit down somewhere sheltered-ish on a fold out mat, get out a flask of tea and a sandwich and just sit for a while and look.  And I think the first couple of weeks of a new year might be the perfect time to do a good bit of looking.

Looking should be savoured. In my opinion it’s better than the actual walking… I like to look back and congratulate myself, remember the pain and the exhilaration;  look at where I am now, enjoy the view;  and look ahead to where I’d like to get to, when I feel like I’ve got the energy to get up and move again.

It’s good to look back at where you’ve been.  To remember that stretch where the walking was a joy and the scent of the flowers around you almost carried you along; the slope that seemed a particularly hard climb; the part where you slipped and fell into the thorns and came out limping and bleeding and yet somehow got up and carried on.  If you look back at the journey of 2014 there will have been different kinds of terrain, injuries, happy times, and people who came and walked beside you in it all, it’s worth taking some time to reflect.

It’s even better to sit next to Jesus and ask him to show you where he was, how he helped you, how he felt as he walked beside you on that climb. Joys and struggles, triumph and disaster.  Don’t judge for yourself, ask him to show you what you did well, what you learned, how you’ve grown.

And while you’re resting with Jesus at the very beginning of 2015, you might choose to have a quick look through your back pack for any rocks you might have accidentally picked up and carried with you this year. Lumps of unforgiveness especially have the ability to slow you down.  It might really help to get rid of them now and not carry them through into the next year!

Looking ahead is harder.  The view back is always clearer than the one in front.  It’s probably better not to second guess it,  and if you’re like me you’ll be in the thick of January before you have time to ask too many questions.  You might just ask for one word or picture that says something about what God wants you to learn or be in the next year and then, if you’re brave enough, look up into Jesus’ eyes and say “I’m not sure where I’m going, but I trust you to lead the way”.