2020 Already! What on earth happened to 2019?!
Not only that, but a new decade too! Twenty years since the Millennium Celebrations which, quite honestly, feel to me about five or six years ago rather than twenty…
On a personal level, any year with a nought at the end is significant for me: having been born in 1960, I’ve hit milestone birthdays every decade on that year. Advance warning – put the 31st October in your diary – Big Party at the Rectory!
But who knows what this new decade will bring – to us as individuals, and to us as church communities? There’ll be new people to meet, new things to do, new visions to embrace, new paths to walk. There will be losses too, and partings: but this is what it means to be human – to move, to change.
All this can feel destabilizing and disorientating, especially at this threshold of a new year, a new decade: but one thing that remains certain and constant in this movement of time is the great cycle of the Church Year, that eternal round of celebrations and events which can be like a lifeline, drawing us through the choppy chaos of the storms of Life.
We’re already well into the Church Year.
It started at the beginning of December with Advent, that period of waiting, of expectation. We are now in Christmastide, and will be until Candlemas, when we take leave of the crib and turn towards the Cross, looking to Lent and Holy week, before the joyous celebration of Eastertide. We then move through Ascension to Pentecost and Trinity, with the Sundays after Trinity passing us by like leaves falling from a tree or footsteps left behind in the sand on the seashore. Finally, we reach All Saints, All Souls, Remembrance & Christ the King, before the year then turns and the cycle begins again.
For centuries, scientists and theologians saw the Universe as a series of Interlocking, moving spheres, which ran smoothly, generating a divine music – the Music of the Spheres – which was a reflection of the harmony of Heaven.
The Church Year is an echo of this, the gentle movement through time, by which we can recognise the imprint of God’s Love in this world. Participating in the Church’s Year, with its journey reflecting the Birth, Death, Resurrection and Eternal Presence of Christ in our Universe, is something we can build our lives on, something that can give us both meaning and hope in a precarious world. Eternity is our ultimate goal: God’s Kingdom our ultimate home.
I feel all this is part of what that wonderful verse of “It came upon a Midnight Clear” expresses:
For lo! the days are hastening on,
By prophet-bards foretold,
When with the ever circling years
Comes round the age of gold;
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendours fling,
And the whole world send back the song
Which now the angels sing.
Happy New Year! Love, Fr. John, Rector