As our villages echo with the cheery greeting "happy New Year!" we hold in our thoughts and prayers those whose Christmas and New Year has begun amidst flood damaged homes, or temporary lodging, or makeshift shelters in underpass or hedgerow. So many begin this new year in transit, either waiting for arrival or simply seeking escape.
We are all familiar with the Christmas story of Mary and Joseph's journey to Bethlehem but many are less familiar with their escape to Egypt and their year's in exile before returning to their Nazareth home on hearing news of an end to Herod's persecutions and oppressions. Egypt continues to bear the burden of sanctuary for so many displaced peoples today, may they too look to hear news of an end to the persecutions and oppressions of their homelands.
The stories of Jesus' infancy continue in the Church's calendar throughout January and February, as this new born is acclaimed a new beginning for all peoples. The new beginning offered in this Nazarene migrant took a life time of waiting before the fulfilment for all life of that hoped for good news in Christ's resurrection. Pray there will be good out of today's great migrations, that those whose lives seem trapped in transit will find their new beginning and that their hopes born in transit will mature to offer good news in this day.
The prayer Christ taught his followers has been heard by those of faith and none in Cliff Richard's Millennium prayer sung just a decade or so ago, setting the daily plea of faith, God's Kingdom come, to that perennial greeting to the New Year, Auld Lang Syne. In this coming of God's Kingdom of peace and justice for all we pray ‘lead us not into temptation’ which may also be read, lead us not into trial or hard testing. Jesus warns his followers of trials to come and assures us that God shortens the time of great tribulation as St Paul too assures his readers ‘God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your strength, but with the temptation will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it 1 Corinthians 10:13. So we pray in this New Year, that the time of hard trial, of tribulation, of testing be bought short, for today's migrants, for those who have suffered floods, for those overwhelmed by life's hard testing and temptations. May the day of God's mercy come quickly, at your hand and at mine, may we provide relief for those in need and want, that they may have hope, and be able to share the greeting we offer.
Happy New Year!
Rev'd Brin Singleton