Now that we have reached the winter months, with the clocks changing and the long dark nights drawing in, we have the unique opportunity to look back on what has happened in the last twelve months.

We have had an incredible year with so many projects being completed and it has been fantastic. I am humbled and grateful to all who work so hard in our Parish on so many different levels. There is a lot going on and it takes an army of people to carry this out. There is always room for more people getting involved and even if it means just an hour when needed, it helps so much. The Church is God’s hope for the world and we are not spectators we are part of that amazing mission. So as the New Year comes around the corner I hope that each will re-evaluate our priorities.

At the beginning of the year we enjoyed a fantastic dinner dance in the golf club with the late Tommy Boyd as the driving force. We welcomed in a new Select Vestry and began Christianity Explored with Castlerock Presbyterian. We witnessed our young people making their confirmation vows which were very special in the life of our Parish.

We lost parishioners sadly though death; we also welcomed new members into our church through baptism. We welcomed new families and said goodbye to others. Nothing stays the same – it is always changing. We had a great time during Holy Week when we enjoyed the ministry of Canon Paul Hoey who is continuing that journey with us in the weeks ahead. We had the fantastic auction of promises and welcomed Derryloran Choir to our Praise Service.

Are you out of breath yet?

This is just a wee reminder of some of the things over the year. We celebrated big birthdays. We did really well at the Raft Race and ponsored Walk. Going to see The Three Priests was a fantastic highlight in the year. We spent time with Bishop Jered and launched our Partnership with the Diocese of Shyogwe. Summer Madness was a great time, we were delighted with the young people we took they were brilliant ambassadors for the parish. Liz Routledge went to Uganda and that was a very moving experience. Liz is speaking at our next Mother’s Union and I would encourage you to come and hear of her experience. Our Summer Fayre was also a huge success. The official opening of St Paul’s and the 80th anniversary of the Mother’s Union came very close together but were wonderful events. Now we are into the next chapter.

Isn’t it very interesting? It seems as soon as the clocks change, and we have our services of Remembrance, Christmas is within sight and it seems to come quicker each year. Perhaps it is something to do with my age! It is a time of preparation both in our own lives and the life of the Church. Before we know it we are catapulted into the constant Christmas shopping frenzy and social events of the season. I heard on the radio that one shop had had its Christmas tree up from June. My response to this is simply why? Every year we are reminded about the true meaning of Christmas and yet when we reflect on the year that has past not much has changed. How do we change? We have to be intentional about our choices starting now. Do we need as much as we buy? Of course not. It is all too easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas.

In the season of Advent we in the church prepare ourselves for the coming of Christ again and this year will be no exception. But in amongst the frenzied activities that often church life too can be maybe we should take a few moments to just “be” instead of “doing” as we remember the true meaning of Christmas.

I hope you all experience the real joy and peace of Christmas.

May God bless you in the depth of His Love