RT REV CHRISTOPHER FOSTER: A time for taking stock and thinking about new possibilities

Bishop Christopher Foster on hopes for the new year
Bishop Christopher Foster on hopes for the new year
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The Anglican Bishop of Portsmouth looks at how the new year is full of hope

When you’re a vicar, it’s quite easy for new year almost to pass you by, because it’s sandwiched between two important festivals.

One is, of course, Christmas itself, and the other is the feast of the Epiphany which was last Sunday, when the church particularly remembers the visit of the wise men to the manger.

What with the busyness of Christmas in churches, new year celebrations often don’t get much of a look in.

Mind you, something that is less well known is that the church’s new year began more than a month ago at the beginning of Advent.

Many Christians follow a yearly cycle of seasons and festivals that tells the life story of Jesus – his birth at Christmas and his trial, death, and resurrection at Good Friday and Easter.

There are many others as well, and the cycle begins at the start of Advent, telling the story of the time before Jesus’s birth.

This means that in many ways the Christian new year is a lot like new year generally.

It marks a time of taking stock and thinking about new possibilities. But like a cold, wet, and stormy January, it can also be a dark time because Advent is a season in which we recognise particularly that the world is not always the way it should be.

That might sound like a gloomy way to start the year, but we’d be in denial if we celebrated all the time as though everything were wonderful.

But the point is that when we are open to recognising the challenges that we face in our world, we are also open to hope.

I think that’s why so many people make new year resolutions. It’s easy to joke about those kinds of things; I suspect a lot of us have made a new year resolution that has been broken by now.

But cynical as we might be, these kinds of thing are little signs of hope, little positive steps towards change for the better.

And all the time people are interested in taking little positive steps forward, there will be hope all around us.