New Start, New Year, New life
Happy New Year to one and all! We’re already half way into January and every year, around this time, I always toil with how long to greet people with “Happy New Year” – so that’s the last time you’ll hear it from me!
I’m not sure if you still make New Year resolutions, but January is certainly a good time to prayerfully discern the direction of your faith journey in 2024 – remembering that God always meets us where we are, but never leaves us there, no matter our age.
We are constantly being invited by God into more: a deeper personal relationship with Jesus and a greater giving of ourselves and our resources – which is to say, new life. While there are many different ways to recognise advancement in the personal journey of faith, growth in prayer, serving and giving are the three primary fruits of spiritual growth and new life in Christ.
Our first reading and Gospel this weekend both deal with prayer. Samuel, in the first reading, is counselled by Eli to respond to the, as-yet, unknown voice of God, with, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10). This is a terrific prayer to take up when you spend time in daily personal private prayer. It’s a prayer which prepares our hearts to listen – remembering that with two ears and one mouth, a healthy ratio in prayer is to listen twice as much as we speak.
Similarly, in the Gospel, the two disciples of John were curious to see where Jesus lived and were invited to spend time with him. What could be more fundamental in prayer than simply being with Jesus.
As we delve more and more into the implementation phase of our parish strategic plan, an important event in the horizon is National Volunteers’ Week (20-26 May 2024). At the conclusion of this celebratory week, we will be facilitating the first annual Parish Service Day.
As per Outcome Four in the Whole-of-Parish outcomes – The parish takes every opportunity to welcome people and encourage them to become involved – the Parish Service Day will be a post-Mass event at every worshipping community wherein people can express their interest to serve in any of the ministries offered in that community.
Finally, you may remember last year Fr Francis and I preaching about financial giving for two weeks in Lent. As has already been communicated, the fruit of that preaching series was evident in your response – which I am extremely grateful for – and I am now actively looking to hire someone to coordinate evangelisation in our parish. This Lent, rather than preaching about giving again, there will be a series about bequests – gifts in wills. As you know, one of the realities we face as a popular retirement parish is the high proportion of ageing worshippers. Our senior worshipping population are our bread and butter – what would we do without you? – and so it stands to reason that conversations about gifts in wills (bequests), are essential to both the legacy of faith-filled senior Catholics and the financial health of the parish into the future.
May your New Year and 2024 faith journey be blessed.