Minister's letter

A message


from Revd. Julia Chard





Happy New Year!    In the words written by Robbie Burns:


Should ‘auld’ acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind- for the sake of ‘auld land syne!’


Apart from the Scots among us, this song is traditionally sung at parties on New Year’s Eve - to let the old year out, and welcome the new year in. With all its fresh opportunities and hopefully some good surprises that will bless us as we try to manage coronavirus and its effects.  We pray fervently for the latter.  Referring to Burns’ poem there are lots of things to ‘forget’ amid the fear and loss that we have endured, particularly since the onset of the pandemic,  yet acquaintances that have blessed us during that time.


As we enter 2022 it is the Epiphany season in the church calendar. With expectant joy of 2022, we look to the direction of the Magi (referred as Wise men or astrologers) in the next instalment of the nativity story, as they sought the promised Messiah. The Magi had travelled from eastern countries to find the new born king. An acquaintance definitely to be forgot was meeting King Herod, who felt threatened with news of a king that could replace him. His fear drove him to wicked acts of cruelty and sadly we hear of similar actions still acted out today.


These astrologers followed the star that led them to the Christ child and they wisely forgot their auld acquaintance with Herod. They travelled safely home, rejoicing from their successful journey to find the Christ child, to spread the good news (Jesus was probably a toddler by the time they found him!).


This last year has had times that many people will choose to forget. Coping with uncertainty has created deep fear, anxiety and depression resulting in various forms of behaviour.  At Fromeside churches we are trying to support this by the resources on offer from our pastoral care, prayer support and financial giving to families in need.


We aim to keep looking at the positives learnt from the past dark times - in the hope set before us as people of faith. In response to the increase of stress, anxiety and loss of people known to us in the Fromeside community, we had to learn new skills. Some of you joined WhatsApp phone groups, Zoom and recorded online services, plus regular phone calls created new friendships.  Along with the weekly phone in ‘Time with God’, a short prayer reflection for people who don’t use WiFi,  all these still continue.  Some of our pastoral team trained as mental health first aiders, and we continue to offer friendship and support where requested within our local schools. We are building stronger connections with our ecumenical partners from our new covenant agreement - so lots of new opportunities to look forward!


God is still with us, even if you feel his presence is distant with the uncertainty created by the pandemic. The wise men persevered under the stress of travelling long distances to find the promised Messiah – they didn’t give up.  God is still with us, however dark some days might feel, the Messiah can still be found in the friendly encounter, a cheerful smile, a simple prayer.


Let’s not forget about this holy acquaintance, that offers love and inner strength through the power of prayer. We cannot allow it to be forgotten!


So, let’s remember the good things of the last year, as we pray for expectant joy of the wise men finding the Messiah. As we enter the gate of the new year 2022, I invite you to join me in putting your hands into the hand of God, in trust of a brighter future, working together in unity and purpose.  Amen.