St Mary's Uttoxeter

Happy, and peaceful new year

11 Jan 2022 • From the Vicar

As I write, the world seems to be taking a collective inhale as we hold our breath and await the science of the new COVID variant. We’re tired, weary, exhausted of it all aren’t we, and I hope that by the time this letter arrives in your hand our response will be a little clearer, that perhaps the New Year might resolve to be more positive. I wonder if you, like our family, decided to not make resolutions last year - no rules 2020 morphed into 2021 – everything seemed so uncertain, and challenging ourselves to pull our socks up, and fix everything in our lives, felt, well, an unattainable goal! Of course, the New Year is a good time to look at our habits, be it our finances, our diet, our television or internet habits, but all too often, by the middle of January it's all forgotten, as we remember that all we want to do is huddle down away from the weather and keep warm, with comfort food and comfort watching. And that’s OK!

Resolving to look at our lives is a good thing to do, but as this poem suggests, it’s not always easy.

“Once I've cleaned the house up” by Adrian Plass

Once I've cleaned this house up properly, I honestly think I'll get somewhere.

Once I've pulled out every single piece of furniture and used an abrasive cloth with strong stuff on it, I think I shall come to grips with the rest of my life.

Once I've put everything into separate piles, each containing the same sort of thing, if you know what I mean, I think I'll manage.

Once I've written a list that includes absolutely everything, I think the whole business will seem very much clearer.

Once I've had time to work slowly from one item to another, I'm sure things will change.

Once I've eaten sensibly for a week and a half,

Once I've sorted out the things that are my fault,

Once I've sorted out the things that are NOT my fault,

Once I've spent a little more time reading useful books, being with people I like, going to pottery classes, getting out into the air, making bread, drinking less, drinking more, going to the theatre, adopting a third world child, eating free range eggs and writing long letters.

Once I've pulled every single piece of furniture right out and cleaned it all properly.

Once I've become somebody else, I honestly think I'll get somewhere.

I wonder, how many of us are trying to change who we are because we think that's the problem – or that we're more likely to be loved if we change? How many of us are desperately trying to live up to utterly unfair and unrealistic expectations because we look at the media, with their airbrushed images, proof that the camera can lie? How many of us will limp into January, feeling that just keeping going is enough at the moment, making New Year resolutions to change ourselves, and the world, is just too much? And that’s OK!

God came into a world that was fragile, hurting and had lost its way. Jesus came because he loves – there is nothing we can do to make him love us more, or less! We are loved, just as we are, and God longs to be in relationship with each one of us, imperfections and all! Do you notice, how over time those who love each other become more attuned with one another? It isn't an immediate thing, it can’t be forced, it takes time. This is the same with our relationship with Jesus. Our lives and habits are changed over time as we heed the greatest of all resolutions to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” (Matthew 22: 36-40)

So, this January, let's step off the treadmill of unattainable resolutions, and instead open our hearts to a relationship with Jesus. Let’s give ourselves the space and time to seek God afresh, to catch glimpses of his goodness all around us, to see how our wonderful church communities can help that journey, and to find a love that will last eternity!

Happy, and peaceful new year.

Rev Jules

Rev Jules Walker

Diocese of Lichfield, Team Vicar in the Uttoxeter Area of Parishes