‘ … einen guten Rutsch ins neue Jahr!’ That is how our friends in Germany often greet each other at the turn of the year: wishing each other ‘a good slide into the new year’. It is an expression that has always appealed to me, as it emphasises the continuity of the process. Moving from one year to another is not an abrupt break, but rather an organic and gentle and natural movement forwards.
So as I wish you ‘a good slide into the new year’, my thought is that we should not imagine that we can leave behind everything that has troubled us. We can’t do that. But we can move forward with hope, learning lessons from recent experience, and understanding that a better way is possible.
As one year leads into another, similarly Christmas leads into Epiphany, and I find great inspiration in the witness of the Magi. The Magi and Epiphany have wonderful gifts to teach us about humility and worship and adoration. At the end of the story, I am always struck by the detail in verse 12 of Chapter 2 of St Matthew’s Gospel: ‘having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their own country by another route’. How could it be otherwise? How could anything be the same again after what they had seen? Might we too hold on to the sheer wonder of Christmas, and let it point us to another route, a better way?
Was Christmas just a few days in late December, anticipated by Carol Services, but now put away for another year? The Magi would have had moments when they wondered whether it was all just a dream. But they knew that it was infinitely real: the reality of God’s Word, God’s only Word, spoken to the world for all time. It is a Word that call us to constant conversion of life. How can anything remain the same after that? We slide into a new year, a new Annus Domini, a new year of grace, taking with us all that is good, leaving behind any unhelpful encumbrance that can be shed, and resolving to follow God by another route and a better way.
With love and with prayers,
AD 2020 / 2021