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Hallo again to all.

This is not just Christmastide; it is our birthday, too. Anglicans Online was founded nine years ago this week, and the two of us have been producing it together (with a lot of help from our colleagues) for six of those nine years. You might get a smile out of reading our end-of-year letters for 2002, 2001, 2000, or 1999. We've somehow managed to lose our end-of-year letter for 1998, and in 1997 we had only just got started with our then-new venture.

To understand the context for this 2003 end-of-year reflection, we'd like to ask you to re-read last year's letter. Just click the 'Back' button when you're done reading.

Stained glass from Church of the Holy Family in Columbus, GeorgiaA good part of the Christian world celebrates today as the Feast of the Holy Family. Yes, we know that most Anglican churches do not, but as we've thought about what it means for the Anglican communion to splinter, we've come to the conclusion that, as the shards get smaller and more dogmatic, it makes sense to pay more attention to the wider catholic world and less to the structure of whatever shard we find ourselves to be part of.

The role of a Christian's family has always been vexing to dedicated prooftexters; consider Luke 9:60-62, for example. But as we reflect this year not just on the Holy Family, but on our own, we find that the realities of modern communication and travel make possible new meanings for the concept of 'family'. For us, a family is not just those with whom we share blood or housing or wedlock, but those with whom we share the intimate triumphs, sorrows, and tedia of our everyday life.

Our own concept of family includes, beyond just us, many beloved in Ireland and Australia and the UK and the US and Canada that we have rarely seen in person. We have shared with our modern-day family the drama of a child's near-fatal illness, the agony of a parent's terminal disease, the joy of a long-awaited ordination, the hard work of fighting depression and gloom, the starting of a new career and a new life far from home, the electricity of a hard decision to stay in a difficult marriage rather than run away in defeat. Our online world has ever-widening circles of inclusion, but so many of those circles feel like family, and the family of the innermost circle is dear enough to us that we can catch ourselves feeling, about people who sleep several time zones away from us, the emotions that a century ago could only be experienced with those that one could see and touch.

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading Anglicans Online, still the most widely-read Anglican publication in the world. Half a million people dropped in during 2003; a quarter million just in December. We are ever grateful that you are one of them, and we invite you to write to us during the coming civil year. If you didn't read AO, then we would quickly lose the motivation to keep it going.

See you next week, next year, and ever onward.

Brian Reid's signature
Cynthia McFarland
Brian Reid

Last updated: 28 December 2003

A thin blue line
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