VEN GAVIN COLLINS: This year has brought challenges and also joy

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This wreath for Gosport football coach Ronnie Williamson was destroyed - while his funeral was still taking place. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves

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The Archdeacon of Meon urges us all to count our blessings

When the rest of the country had some snow before Christmas, most of our area had only rain, drizzle and puddles.

My children complained about seeing Facebook pictures of friends and relatives in other parts of the country sledging, building snowmen and enjoying an unexpected day off school. 

And, if I’m honest, I too felt a little bit cheated that I had no excuse to get the sledge out and have some fun myself!

Yet, while the prospect of snow may be fun for some of us, for others it brings real misery, frustration and even danger.

For those who have to travel, by road, rail or plane, and those who are homeless, or who don’t have adequate heating or can’t afford it, the snow and intense cold is not a source of joy, but of danger and worry. 

And that’s true not just for many in this country, but also for refugees without secure homes or safety in countries across our world today.

This makes me determined to thank God for the blessings I’ve received and the securities I enjoy – and also to commit to help in some small way those who don’t enjoy the same securities. 

As I give thanks, I think of family, colleagues, friends and neighbours: those I see every week, and those who I only see very rarely, but who have encouraged me in many ways over the years. 

As I seek to support some of those for whom this time of year is difficult, I appreciate the inspirational work of charities such as Crisis, Shelter and the Salvation Army.

I’m also deeply impressed with the commitment of volunteers in Portsmouth and elsewhere who will invite homeless people to sleep in their churches this winter.

In the run up to the new year, I hope that you will be able to pause, look up and see something of the blessings that you enjoy in life.

I hope you know the reality that lies at the heart of the Christmas message – that God draws near to us, and is with us in the joys and in the struggles of life.

Wishing you a wonderful remainder of the holiday season and start to 2018. 

May the new year for you be filled with true moments of joy.