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Dear Friends

Here at St Mary’s the calendar year usually starts, on the first Sunday of January, with a celebration of Epiphany (mostly this has to be transferred, since 6 January only occasionally coincides with that first Sunday). We are all, I am sure, praying that 2021 will prove to be a kinder year than 2020 - the pandemic has dominated our lives and, even if we have been fortunate enough to escape the virus itself, there have been many disappointments and difficulties, including the disruption of plans for get-togethers with family and friends, and the anxieties connected with actual or potential job losses.

New phrases like ‘social distancing’ have crept into our vocabulary, and, in church, this has meant, among other things, that we have been unable to share the peace — such a sign of our fellowship in Christ - or to catch up with each other socially at the beginning or end of services. We are, of course, aware that all these restrictions have been for our own good and protection -‘stay safe’ has during the last year become an alternative to ‘goodbye. I heard the other day that some of these restrictions and preventative measures may be with us for some time, despite the very welcome news about the roll-out of effective vaccines, which could be depressing and frustrating.

We Brits are, however, stoical on the whole — there have been many allusions to the Second World War and all the privations endured then - and Captain Sir Tom Moore has notably personified that spirit. In fact, nearly every news bulletin has carried stories of ordinary people, some of them quite young children, doing extraordinary things, going the ‘extra mile’, to use a Biblical phrase, to help others through this bad patch. We give thanks for them, and for the light which they have brought to others during a dark time.

Have a happier new year.

Stephen