Dear Friends

Happy New Year and a Claydons and Calvert Green welcome to 2021.

I hope you were able to have some special family time during this Christmas season after the regional Tier 2 High Alert in December, last month.

A favourite quote of mine by Edith Lovejoy Pierce, frequently shared with the children at East Claydon Church of England School worship as well as last year’s magazine said: “We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.”   What words should we add for New Year’s Day and thereafter?  Could this be the time to reflect on the challenges experienced in 2020, in particular, coping with the Covid-19 pandemic impact to inform on 2021 opportunities?

As I write, the first consignment of the Pfizer / BioNTech coronavirus vaccine has already arrived in the UK and 40 million more doses have been ordered – some of which will reach us soon.   So, we know that the new year, 2021, will be different to 2020 in health terms.   But will that be enough?

Self-reflection is defined as a mental process to grow our understanding of who we are, what our values are, and why we think, feel, and act the way we do. When we self-reflect and become more conscious of what drives us, we can more easily make changes that help us more easily develop our self or improve our life.   But it is also good to reach forward with optimism for our tomorrow because the Sun will always shine.   Oprah Winfrey said: “I want every day to be a fresh start on expanding what is possible”.  Aaron Lauritsen also said: “There is a strange comfort in knowing that no matter what happens today, the Sun will rise again”.

The first chapter of the second book of Corinthians cites:  “God is the source of comfort.  He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. Then (we) can patiently endure the same things we suffer”.  2020 has been a difficult year for many of us from family bereavements, challenging personal circumstances, financial issues, relationships to illnesses (including Covid-19 shielding).   Many think that when God comforts us, our troubles should go away.  But if that were always so, people would turn to God only out of a desire to be relieved of pain, not out of love for him.  We must understand that being “comforted” can also mean receiving strength, encouragement, and hope to deal with our troubles.  The more we suffer, the more comfort God gives us.

If you are feeling overwhelmed after self-reflection, please allow God to comfort you with the following Church of England prayer:  “Keep us, good Lord, under the shadow of your mercy in this time of uncertainty and distress. Sustain and support the anxious and fearful, and lift up all who are brought low; that we may rejoice in your comfort knowing that nothing can separate us from your love in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen”.

What I shared this time last year is as relevant as now.  That, as a Christian community, we journey together.  We recognise our accomplishments and celebrate as a community.  We also share each other’s pain knowing that by journeying together, we might just bring that ounce of difference and comfort for our Parish community of villages, particularly, our residents bearing their pain alone.

2021 will be an uncertain time coming out of Covid-19.   The ongoing villages’ impact of HS2 and East West Expressway will also remain.    But we can be thankful for the gift of each new day, the gift of faith and trust, the gift of our family, the gift of friendship, the gift of our health, the gift of an accident-free journey, the gift of our community, key workers and emergency services, the gift of food from Buckinghamshire Council and the gift of a new year, 2021.   Saint Ambrose said, “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks” and I hope you would join me in thinking of something thankful daily during this month for each chapter of our Book of Opportunity.

Happy New Year with love

Reverend Rickey Simpson-Gray

Parish of the Claydons