From the Rector

Dear Friends,

As we step into a New Year, I have an increased sense of hopefulness. The first reason for this is simply that we cannot surely have a more difficult and challenging year than we did in 2020! The second is that we have reason for great confidence that the vaccination roll-out will help us on the road to recovery from the Covid pandemic sooner rather than later. Vaccinations are already under way in our borough as I write and we will be opening a clinic at St Mary’s Church hall soon. Once older people and the most vulnerable people have been successfully vaccinated, then we will be looking at a life that is much closer to normal with fewer deaths, hospitalisations and restrictions. That doesn’t mean we will be out of the woods, but it does mean that by Easter we will be in a better place. At least in this country. Challenges of inequality remain globally as well as locally, and I fear the poorest countries of the world will be far behind us in this.

We are now in the season that the Church refers to as Epiphany, when we contemplate the manifestation of Christ to the nations and the transformation Christ’s presence brings into our lives. We begin with the story of the mysterious visitors from the East to the baby in Bethlehem bearing gifts – the kings, wise men or “Magi.” We consider the baptism of Jesus and ponder its meaning, in particular the words from heaven “this is my beloved son” which features in those narratives. And we enjoy the story of Jesus turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana, Galilee, recorded by St John as his first “sign”. All are stories of hope and better days. They are uplifting stories for a gloomy month. I always hold back my nativity scene for these weeks, including both the Christ child and the three kings. This year, I will also be keeping lights up at the Rectory. Even the Christmas tree outside St Mary’s will remain until mid-January! I encourage you to do the same as a sign of hope in the midst of darkness.

I’ll also be starting the New Year with a period of extended leave. It’s important that we know our limits and these past nine months have been extremely taxing for us all, including those in leadership roles in the church. The usual quiet start to the year – most likely in ongoing Lockdown this time – gives me chance to rest and recharge my batteries. I’m away from 4th January until 7th February. As well as resting, I’ll be working on my New Year’s resolution. I have been doing well with this tradition in recent years. In 2018, I resolved to buy more hats – that didn’t prove hard! Last year, I took up the Parkrun. Whilst this had to stop in March, I continued running throughout the year, stepping up my physical fitness levels. This year, I’m aspiring to relearn Latin. Whilst I’m away, I’ll be making a start on that. Latin was, of course, for a very long time the language of the Church in the West and the principal language of learning. As part of a monastic community – Ealing Abbey – worship to this day is often in Latin and I want to be able to enter into that more meaningfully. I haven’t studied the language for more than 40 years, but I do have a degree in it!

It’s my prayer that, as the New Year starts, you will find both hope for yourself and fresh purpose and enjoyment in your relationships, in what you already spend your time doing, as well as in new ventures. And here’s to a healthy year for us all and better days to come.

Wishing you a blessed New Year.

Nick

 


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