New Year, new start!

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Dove of peace

Good wishes to everyone for 2018!

I hope that the days of Christmas and the subsequent holidays have offered each of you an opportunity to relax, enjoy time with family and friends and, if it is your tradition, to celebrate the birth of Jesus whose life and death had a profound effect on the whole world (and continues to do so).

In the run-up to Christmas, there will have been many conversations along the lines of "What do you want for Christmas?" or "What would you like for Christmas?" There will now no doubt be equal amounts of satisfaction and disappointment — depending on how closely our wants were achieved. This will have been governed by the giver's ability to track the item down; their ability (and willingness) to pay for it and, possibly, whether they thought they had had a better idea anyway!! I hope that there have been large quantities of "thank you" shared by whichever means of communication is appropriate in your context.

As part of the marking of a New Year, there will now be the annual swapping of "What's your New Year's resolution?" These will vary from the "easy to keep for a week or a month" variety to the more serious ones that will impact your life and the lives of those around you for months and years to come.

In the world-wide Methodist Church, we have the tradition of our Covenant Service — sometimes described as our New Year resolution to follow God's ways for another year. It is a service that stands at the heart of our Methodist tradition, reminding us of "God's readiness to enfold us in generous love, not dependent on our deserving". The covenant (a serious promise between two parties, like a marriage) is not simply about our personal relationship with God through Jesus, but is also about our relationship with him in the context of community.

It is an opportunity to reflect not on what I want, but on what I can offer; not on what I get but on what I can give. These are surely good rules for community living whether you are a person of faith or not... They invite us to look beyond ourselves out into the wider places that we spend our daily lives and to commit to making a positive difference — no matter how small. Even a smile as we pass each other in the street could be that new start!!

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