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Dear Friends,

Happy New Year!

Writing this pastoral letter, in January, I can’t help but reflect on the fact that we have journeyed from the past year into the mystery of a new year. As we journey, we don’t know what the days and months will bring, but experience tells us that there will be highs and lows, joys and challenges; for instance, at the start of 2020, we did not know that there was going to be a global pandemic, and when we had the first lockdown in March 2020, we thought the virus would be gone within a few months, but it didn’t. Then came 2021, we thought that maybe we didn’t have long to wait, and the pandemic would be over, and life would return to some normality, but now in 2022, we discover that the twist and turns of the pandemic is still unfolding. Yet, as believers, in the midst of all that the year would bring we can keep hope alive, because the God of all hope, will fill us with all joy and peace, as we trust in Him, so that our hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit,   Romans 15:13.

Friends, as we continue our journey, we do not hold the key to the year in our hands, so we cannot lock or unlock what happens. Yet, instead of being afraid, we can know and put our hope and trust in the God who holds the key to the future. We are told 365 times in the Bible not to be afraid, but to trust God, who will be with us and will help us. However, God’s presence with us does not mean that we are protected from every problem, challenge and pain, but it means that we do not go through them alone. The encouragement to not be afraid, is not meant to trivialise genuine fears based on circumstances, but to help us to reflect, to acknowledge and present our fears and anxieties to God, allowing him to give us his peace and strength to keep going, if, and when, the going gets tough.

This year, let us all look up in hope to the God who will do something new in our lives, our churches, and communities.

God’s faithful care will extend to every day of the New Year: His presence will be with us to help us experience love and hope in the midst of a world of pain and brokenness.  He will help us cope with the continued impact of the pandemic, shining his light in the gloom and darkness. He will be with us, giving us his grace, to help us face our challenges, and to spur us on to dream and explore the new heights we must climb. So, let us turn and keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, our light and salvation. In faith, and in hope, let’s keep on keeping on, for:

Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all the darkness.

Desmond Tutu (7-10-31 to 26-12-21)

Every blessing

Irene John


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