Isfield Notes – January 2012
May I wish all of you a very Happy New Year.
Isn’t the calendar a strange thing – not just the church’s calendar – that’s strange enough, but our secular calendar. We divide time into years, according to our orbit round the sun, into months according to the moon’s orbit round us – the precise length of these periods having been fixed by Pope Gregory XIII in 1582. We divide months into weeks of 7 days from the Hebrew calendar based on the Creation story in Genesis; days themselves are fixed because of the earth’s rotation, and then we divide days by 24 hours, hours by 60 for minutes and a minute by 60 for seconds. One second is now defined as ‘equal to the duration of 9,192,631,770 periods of the radiation produced by the transition between two hyperfine levels in the ground state of the Caesium isotope 133’. (and some people reckon theology is obscure!) Anyway the result of this jumble is that January 1st is New Year’s Day – sometimes called the ‘Gate of the Year’.
I wonder how you look back on 2011? Probably with mixed emotions reflecting the bewildering variety of joys and sadnesses that life’s circumstances bring us. At the Parsonage in a real sense it has been an annus horribilis, with Mavis’ illness dominating the scene – months during the Summer when there was no sense of normality. A time when, of the 3 Christian ‘virtues’ of faith, hope and love, it is hope which becomes paramount.
And in that sense, it has turned out to be an annus miraculous; with the skill of surgeons, doctors and nurses, the loving prayers of so many and the healing power of Christ transforming fearful darkness with so many rays of light and hope.
In fact we now look forward to 2012. We have even bought a second-hand motor home to visit far-flung family and friends, and actually get something of a holiday this year.
The words of ‘Gate of the year’ were written by Minnie Haskins and quoted by King George VI in a Christmas broadcast during the Second World War: “And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, ‘Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.’ And he replied, ‘Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than a light, and safer than a known way’.”
I can’t emphasise enough how true that is. Thanks be to God, and to everyone who has helped and supported us through 2011.