UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
Craig’s letter for January 2020
Revd Craig Bowman
I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year and I trust your Christmas celebrations have been joyful, peaceful and hope-full.
A new year now lies ahead of us and the world around us is full of promises and dreams, with the encouragement to transfer debt from one credit card to another and make life easier, with the promise of a loan to fund this year’s holiday or new car, with the offer of a new body if you sign up to a gym, with the guarantee of a healthy life if you give up smoking or drinking or chocolate (or all three!), and so on.
Some will find their dreams fulfilled this year – it will be the year when they get their finances sorted, give up an addictive habit, or fulfil a life-long ambition. However many of those who grasp the promises held out to them at this time of year will not find them fulfilled. Instead they will find themselves trapped deeper in debt, giving up after only a few sessions at the gym, or rapidly reaching for the cigarettes or alcohol after just a short abstinence.
It’s not just a matter of will-power, either. Some of those who make changes this year will do it dramatically, with little or no outside help and succeeding through their own determination, but those who seek help and support, who seek to make changes as part of a group of like-minded people, must surely have a better chance of success. There will be people there to encourage them when there are days of struggle, others there to advise when difficult decisions need to be made, and the opportunity to be the one who is there for others in their hard times.
The same holds true in our Christian life. From time to time we determine that we are going to do better, whether it be to act more justly, forgive more readily, give more generously, read the Bible more often, improve our prayer-life, or whatever. Sometimes we might be able to do these things for a short while through our own efforts, but seeking to do these things with others, both receiving and giving support, makes deep-rooted change more likely to take place.
So, at the beginning of this new year, if you are promising yourself that you will do better this year, and you are not already a part of one of the groups in the church, then why not consider joining one of the fellowship groups, prayer groups or cinema club? By being involved in one or more of these you may find that help, encouragement or inspiration you need to help you keep the promise you are making this year, but also be the support, encouragement or inspiration that someone else needs to keep theirs.
So many of the groups at St Andrew’s can play a part in helping individuals and the Christian community to deepen and strengthen their faith but remember the greatest help, and the one that brings true change, is God himself. Without God’s help all our promises to ourselves and all efforts will achieve little.
May God be there to help you grow this year.
The Revd Craig Bowman is minister of St Andrew’s Cheam and Wallington United Reformed Churches