Lightening the load
Christmas is a time I very much look forward to. The anticipation of the build-up, the joy of celebrating the birth of our Lord and Saviour and moments of reflection as the New Year beckons. All sorts of feelings are stirred by New Year – hope, optimism, regrets, fears and concerns.
Approaching New Year there are a few rock songs (a great passion of mine) that I turn to – one is a real favourite. This Will Be My Year by Semisonic. This tongue in cheek tune captures the common belief that the coming year will be better than the last – this could be a theme for all of us.
Despite the inevitable challenges – some old, some new and some that just won't go away because it's "aye been this way" as we love to say in the Church – the time has come to shake off some of our baggage and lighten our load!
So why do I go into 2024 filled with optimism despite the sobering situation we find ourselves in? Facing up to the task ahead I genuinely believe we are turning the corner, transitioning from mission plans to their implementation. The formation of the last of our presbyteries signals good progress facilitating the work necessary to empower and decentralise from the national to the local church. I'm increasingly buoyed by the vision of the future where people are starting to see exciting new possibilities for the future whilst making the most of our rich and wonderful heritage. Over the past four years we have navigated a rollercoaster of external factors like the pandemic and economic crisis while reshaping ourselves and our finances for the future. Increased rigour to the way we manage all of this has been very important and sets us up for brighter times ahead.
Amidst these changes, the unwavering dedication and hard work of our congregations remains constant spreading the Good News to people in all sorts of imaginative ways. Participating in Church services offers a transformative experience, allowing people to connect with their spirituality and find solace in the midst of life's challenges. It is also a moment to acknowledge the commitment of those at CrossReach tackling social challenges, advocating for, and lobbying the Scottish Government to provide better funding for this sector. I know the support from our Church members means so much too and perhaps you will remember them in your prayers or choose to donate to support their work alongside dedicating your time, talents and money to the Church.
Being fully engaged personally at national, presbytery and congregational levels I feel and understand the pain of our circumstances and the associated feelings of lament. To move Forward collaboration is key, to overcome any barriers (real or perceived) discarding the "Them and Us" mentality that has hindered relationships over the years. We all want the same thing; a thriving, relevant Church fit for the future, serving our communities. We must continue to move beyond being preoccupied and constrained by buildings, focussing instead on the most effective ways possible to open up our spaces, wherever and whatever they be, to those that need us.
As we move towards GA2024 it is time to change the narrative – cherishing our past, leaving behind the sorrows of troubled times and most importantly working together towards a fantastic future for our Church that is inspired, guided and driven by the Holy Spirit.
Take care and God Bless,