New Year Hopes

Have you any great hopes for 2010 ?

I’ve stopped making resolutions but I still have hopes and at the start of the year I reflected on my hopes. I realise that we’re into the year now but I want to share mine with you.

1)       Firstly, I hope to have somewhere to live !  Circuit reorganisation means that I will be leaving Ripley and moving into Alfreton or South Normanton. Its an unsettling time as Alison comes to the end of her time at University and is Ordained into Crich Parish next July 4th. We’re very aware of the fact that 2010 is going to bring major changes to our lifestyle, our business and our need to find time to be together as we both face fierce demands on our time from more than one set of Churches. However, in many ways it feels as though the last few years have been leading us both towards this moment in time.

Having said all that we do recognise that any time of change always brings uncertainty and unease. You’ve heard the story of how many Methodists does it take to change a light bulb ?  “Change ?, whats that ?”

I think the uncertainty that change brings raises many questions amongst us “What will life be like ?, How will we manage ? etc.”

But, sometimes change is positive and to be welcomed. Good things can come out of change; improvement of circumstances; job satisfaction; new friends to be made and so on and so change can sometimes be exciting as well as fearful.

I think that our change this year is somewhere between the unease and the exciting. We have our sorrow over losing so many good people in the half of the circuit that will join Amber Valley, people that we’ve forged close friendships with and in Alison’s case leaving All Saints Church (Ripley), and yet we have the excitement of a new challenge and new friends. What are the changes you’ll have to face this year ? and how will you face them ?

I encourage you to seize the necessary changes and make the most of them. Leave the unnecessary ones as trivialities.

2)       My life is very busy as I dare say is yours. This year it gets busier as I increase from 9 to 12 churches AND become the President of my  Rotary club.

How do I intend to cope with it all ?  By sitting and doing nothing ! Sounds ludicrous doesn’t it ?

There’s a story about how one man challenged another to an all-day wood chopping contest. The challenger worked very hard, stopping only for a brief lunch break but the other man had a leisurely lunch and took several breaks during the day. At the end of the day, the challenger was surprised and annoyed to find that the other man had chopped substantially more wood than he had.

“I don’t get it,” he said. “Every time I checked, you were taking a rest, yet you chopped more wood than I did.”

“But you didn’t notice,” said the winning woodsman, “that I was sharpening my axe when I sat down to rest.”

We all need time to settle back and `sharpen` our axes. I intend this year to try and spend more time sitting in a chair, reading, listening to music or simply reflecting and in so doing getting myself better prepared for the work. I intend to spend more time with God, listening to him and enjoying his company.

3)       A friend once said to me that I would receive a thousand compliments yet remember the one complaint. This year I intend to try and hear the positive and be deaf for the negative.

Several years ago Alison and I returned to Oldham for a church reunion. By this time we’d been left for about 4 years; we found ourselves in a food queue behind another Church member who was complaining to Alison about the minister who had replaced me. At first I felt good listening to all his faults until she announced in a loud voice “I don’t know what it is about this church but we get all the rubbishy ministers !”

Its not to say that we shouldn’t hear complaints, if they’re justified and helpful, but sometimes they’re no more than one persons opinion.

I’m going to listen more to the compliments and less to the complaints, as I want to be encouraged not pulled down.

4)       So my three resolutions are to embrace necessary change with vigour, to take time out, and to listen for compliments.

St John Chrysostom once said….. “When we once begin to form good resolutions, God gives us every opportunity of carrying them out.”

I believe in a God who came as a little child, born in Bethlehem, who grew into a man crucified at Calvary and raised from the dead. Why ? because he’s a God who wants to give us all a new start and he’s a God who will walk alongside us when we try to grasp that new start.

And we all need new starts don’t we ?  New Year is the chance for us all to stop, take stock and resolve to make 2010 better in all ways than before. And that is Gods wish too, that we will make the world a better place by necessary change, by relaxing with Him and by being more positive.

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