Welcome to another new year. I hope it’s a good one for you and for your family and for our all our communities across Oxfordshire and beyond.
This is the time of year when we package our hopes into new year resolutions. If I may, I want to suggest a couple to you to think about in the next few days and to build into your own life.
Lots of people will be wondering about taking more exercise or joining a gym. Personal trainers talk about doing exercise to strengthen your core: the centre of the body which can help and support everything we do. That’s great but we are not just physical bodies: we have a different inner core – a spiritual heart – which needs to be mended and strengthened.
So here are two resolutions to strengthen your inner core.
The first is a resolution to go deeper in prayer and worship. The last few years for many people have been challenging and difficult. We need to draw more deeply on God’s strength. The best way to do that is to take time at the beginning of each week, Sunday by Sunday to worship God and draw on God’s strength and grace. Reconnect with your local church. Get back into the habit of worship. You’ll find a warm welcome, friendship and a time for rest and renewal. Try to take some time each day to pray. Pray the Lord’s Prayer. Pray for your loved ones. Pray for the world. Build up that inner core. It may feel a bit daunting to cross the threshold – but for many people it’s more than worth it for the strength and hope and joy you’ll find in Jesus and in Christian faith.
The second is to reset your priorities once again at the beginning of the year. Remember what’s important. One of the stories I will be reflecting on this year is when someone came to Jesus and asked him which is the most important commandment. Jesus replied like this: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength and you shall love your neighbour as yourself.”
Remember in this year that you are deeply loved by God and God calls you to this way of love.
Lent begins this year on Valentine’s Day, 14 January. All across the Diocese of Oxford we will be reflecting on this way of love, the two greatest commandments. I’m praying that many people from the wider community will join us this year as we explore this way of love. You can find details on our website, Come and See.
My God bless you and our city and our county in this brand new year and take us deeper in that way of love.
We thank you that you have made the world in love
And that you call us into love for you and for our neighbour
We dedicate this new year to you whatever it may bring
Strengthen us in our inner being to know your love more fully
To know you better and to live this way of love
Through Jesus Christ our Lord