It’s mid-January and I can look back on achievements over Christmas and forward to a break somewhere in the sunshine.
Tell God your plans and you're in for a surprise. Again and again in my life I work, as the conscientious guy I try to be, to set up the best future for myself, for my family and for my church - but we have a God of surprises!
We have a God who as Paul teaches in Romans 8:28 works all things for good for those who love him and he works it both through our planning and through the surprises he gives us.
The last few months have seen a surprising number of contentious issues, pastoral and personal challenges through which I have seen God creating, redeeming and sanctifying as the Triune God he is. The Lord has worked in my leadership to steer my life through several contingencies. I have needed him both to hold up my zeal and to keep me in the moment by moment awareness zeal sometimes gets blinded to.
In a blog you're somewhat bound to be upbeat. Leadership in a village church is highly exposed. Christmas saw St Giles caught up in the formation of a village plan and the registration of land for development including our own. All of this has tested relationships in the leadership team but so far so good.
I have written in the past how December puts ridiculous pressure on parish priests and this year was exceptionally 'ridiculous' with the plan meetings alongside two big funerals as well as the expectations of Advent, community carol services and visits to the housebound.
Perhaps the greatest joy was a Christian death preceded by months of holy dying with family reconciliation. This joy, reminding me of the proximity of divine glory, put the admin load into good perspective.
It's great being a priest, having the privilege and responsibility of lives opening to you, even if I find myself currently counting down the days to my post-Christmas break in the sun!