For the last few years we have been finishing our carol service in the words of Rend Collective’s ‘For all that you have done’ , a beginning point of turning our hearts to face the new year hand in hand with our God. It has been increasingly meaningful to me to begin that heart process there in the midst of the warm, tangible hopeful joy of the Christmas story. Standing in the strength of the community declaring ‘Emmanuel God is with us’ is the place to be standing as I look forward into another year.
‘As family we’ll go
Shoulder to shoulder,
hand in hand, into the great unknown.’
And now, a blink of an eye – and many sleepless nights, heaps of washing, precious time with family and plenty of washing up – later – here we are, in 2020! Holding on to ‘Emmanuel God is with us’ and walking one step at a time into all that is ahead for us. There are always so many unknowns, many small and large decisions to make along the way that will shape family life and challenge us. Looking through previous January photos reminds me of challenges already faced. And I’m certain as it’s always been, we will each react differently to the challenges and new ways of being as a family that we will encounter in 2020. We’ll each struggle with different things, be terrified at different times and enjoy other moments. It will be another year of amazing, bewildering, chaotic, fruitful, challenging; pretty full on family life no matter what! New year maybe, same old – absolutely!
But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God”. (Ruth 1:16)
When I think of the many heroes of the faith who stood similarly at the brink of the new, the unknown and yet took that first step with God – taking their family with them, whatever that felt and looked like! – I’m reminded that however uncertain and unknown a new year may feel there is a solid bedrock under my feet, and a faithful companion with me and ahead of me. And when I fall, or fail, or falter I will be picked up, dusted down, cried with, laughed with and hugged and will be able to step forward again.
Many seem to choose a word for their year these days. In some ways that seems a heap more manageable than a list of resolutions so I’m wondering whether to hold onto ‘Emmanuel’ – metaphorically and literally this year. As a word that can be declared above the challenges and the busyness; celebrated together – the great mind-blowing truth that shapes us more than the world ever can; and hidden in when rest is needed!
As for resolutions maybe it’s to laugh more – Andrew has been suggesting it for years!