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New Year's Message:

















New Year's Message from Reverend Canon John Harkin
Vicar of St. Mary's Church and Area Dean of Andover Deanery


Dear friends


I wonder what we would do if we discovered that the world would end in two days time, what changes might we make from our increasingly busy lifestyle?


Mother Teresa (now a Saint since she was  canonised by Pope Francis in September 2016)  wrote before her death:


"Today we have no time to even look at each other, to talk to each other, and still less to be what our children expect from us, what the husband expects from the wife, what the wife expects from the husband. And so less and less we are in touch with each other. The world is lost for want of sweetness and kindness. People are starving for love, because everybody is in such a rush."


Reverend Canon John Harkin

It says something about us as human beings that when we are faced with potentially life-changing or indeed life-ending circumstances, so often we hear that people want to express their love for others, perhaps in a voicemail or text message, maybe a scribbled note to say "I love you." In some way love becomes all consuming, we simply have to let people know who mean so much to us, that in our time of extremis we thought of them and shared our love for them.


Yet somehow, in the busyness of the here and now, in the rush of life, we often don't seem to be able to find the time to share that same love with them.


The Bible tells us that "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven..." (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Perhaps as we stand at the threshold of this New Year and look into 2018 with all it holds for each one of us, we might make ourselves a promise and a commitment to share sweetness and kindness and love with all people that we meet, not just those closest to us. What a difference that could make to those people, to us personally, indeed, to the world!


When Jesus was asked what was the greatest commandment, He replied that it was for us to express love, first for God and then for our neighbours, ie the people we encounter on life's journey. So why not start living each day with this new outlook on life, why wait until we are in a crisis situation to share that love God has given to us for other people?


In the language of the New Testament, different words express that love in different ways and different contexts, for example the love of a parent for a child, or of someone who would lay down their life for a friend, or of good friends or ultimately the self-giving, sacrificial love for other people, even those unknown to us. And how often do we see this in the battle zones of our broken world, as individuals band together to bring aid and relief to those in need.


To the best of my knowledge, the world isn't going to end in two days! Of course, that decision isn't up to me!


However, how I live each day of the rest of my life, how you live each day of the rest of your life, is to a significant degree up to me, up to you. We can face the joys and challenges of 2018 with a heart full of love if we walk with God into the New Year and beyond.


The poet Minnie Haskell wrote:

"I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year, give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown." And he replied, "Go into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way!"


Sue and I pray you have a very special, loving and encouraging 2018.


Canon John

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