Hallo again to all.
And so the numerically ungainly* year of grace AD 2011 has passed into history. All round the world we're now all firmly launched into 2012.
We'll no doubt all bump along roughly on the difficult Anglican Communion road we've been on for several years. Would that there were an end in sight! We confess we've no idea where the 'covenant process' is in its interminable treacly journey to rejection or acceptance, but this annotated scoreboard, kept by a diligent Anglican, will tell you all you'd want to know.
The moments of grace we'll all experience in 2012 will be mostly undocumented (except by those who are methodical about Facebook updates), but they will come. Spiritual struggles and interior battles will be fought, and by God's grace, will be won. There will be rough patches, parish squabbles, and worries about the number of bums in pews. Concerns about money, in these still tough economic times, will preoccupy those of us who want to give more but can't and those of us who must make do with far less.
We'd like to think power-mad bishops and rubbishy clerics would fade away in 2012, but alas they will no doubt be with us. But they will be outnumbered by the unknown multitude of thoughtful, loving, attentive, prayerful, and devoted men and women who serve as deacons, priests, and bishops.
There will be jumble sales and churchyard clean-ups, beach barbies and flower festivals. The rhythm of Anglican parish life will go on round the Communion. Amongst the comfort of all that is old and familiar, many of us will ask tough questions about how to carry out and carry on the gift of Ecclesia Anglicana, this beloved and beleaguered branch of the Church Catholic. It does no favour to say 'We're all right, Jack', as if it will all come right on the night. The centuries-old understandings of how faith is transmitted and practised are being questioned. And if this is a good thing, it isn't an easy one.
So welcome to 2012! Keep calm and carry on, indeed, but kick up the passion when needed. Do something radical: invite a friend or acquaintance to come to church with you. Or mention your parish over a cup of tea to someone who may not know about it. After all, most of us manage to talk about a good film we've seen or a fine concert we've heard: surely we can manage a few engaging sentences about our Anglican life. (Practise saying those few engaging things in the mirror, if you must!)
Some of us — those special few — are called to labour in remote places to take the Gospel to the world. Most of us, though, are 'in school, on the street, in the store, in church, by the sea, in the house next door' and it's there we must do the work. And, dear friends, our little bit matters more than we might think.
So let's continue on the twelve days Christmastide pilgrimage, heading towards that blessed feast of light and life that is Epiphany. And, as an Anglican bishop once said, 'Eat gustily and drink heartily — then get out there to change the world'. In our own little ways. Because it matters more than we can ever know.
See you next week. And a blessed AD 2012 to us all!
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