Rev Neil Riches

Dear friends,

I don’t think that it will come as a surprise to you to learn that the little word ‘new’ crops up in my life a great deal at the moment! I am settling into a new home; I am starting to get to grips with a new job; I am meeting a lot of new people; I have joined a new leisure club; I am exploring a new town – and there are new opportunities at every turn. Add to this the fact that all of us will have to get to grips with a new calendar year – 2022 – and you can see why there is still a genuine sense of anticipation, excitement even, when I wake up each morning. Yet… well, there is sense that each of us has to live with the word ‘new’ on a daily basis. It is a fundamental part of what it means to live life as a Christian. As the hymnwriter John Keble expressed it, ‘New every morning is the love our wakening and uprising prove’. The word ‘new’ occurs five times in the second verse: ‘New mercies each returning day… new perils past, new sins forgiven, new thoughts of God, new hopes of heaven’. We live as those who have embraced new life in Christ – and that means that every day means a fresh start, with new and unique opportunities for Christian service and witness. Life never grows old and stale. God is a God who offers us endless new beginnings; each time we accept his gift of forgiveness, we are offered a fresh start. As a young man, I spent time in Montana, USA, on a Rotary Foundation Award. In one of the churches where I spent time, the senior minister thought that it would be a good idea if I spent time with a Sunday School class for the over80s as a part of the church’s All-Age teaching programme. For a minister of 25, it was a very humbling – and challenging – experience. None of the small group of folk in their 80s and 90s had lost a zest for life, the conviction that every day brings opportunities for learning and for growth, the sense that the God of surprises has new things to teach us, whatever our age or situation. So, in wishing you well for 2022, I also wish you the sense that every day represents a new adventure with God.

 

With much love in Christ,

Your friend and minister, Neil

01305 773943