Rev Jo’s Letter – Jan 2022

A new year brings Epiphany, the season in the church in which we celebrate the revelation of Jesus to the gentiles with the coming of the Magi, bearing their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh, symbolising prayer, kingship and death. 

When Easter falls early, Epiphany almost disappears from the calendar, but in 2022 we manage all four Sundays of Epiphany. January 9th marks the Baptism of Christ, 

when Jesus was baptised by John the Baptist in the river Jordan, a scene depicted in the stained glass window by the font in Ryhall church. 

In a world where uncertainly has marked our lives for almost two years, it is good to have the rhythm of the church year to offer stability and shape to our lives, but it’s also good at this time of year to reflect on what is going on in the world. 

The refugee situation has caused much debate. For Christians there is the example of Jesus himself who was taken into exile by his parents in Egypt to escape the slaughter of the innocents by Herod. The Bishop of Chelmsford, the Right Revd Guli Francis-Dehqani, made a powerful maiden speech in the House of Lords on the subject of refugees and asylum seekers, describing her own experience as a teenager in Iran, after the Shah was deposed. Her father was Bishop of Iran at the time, and an attempt was made on his life, during which Guli’s mother was shot and injured. Then Guli’s older brother was murdered on his way home from work, so the family fled to England where they were eventually granted asylum, but Guli well remembers the worry and instability of this time, when they were utterly dependent on others for their everyday needs, and in constant anxiety over their asylum claim while having to adapt to a vastly different culture. She made a plea for our government to pay the debt to Iran which is the official cause of the detention of Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and others with dual Iranian/British citizenship. She also asked the Iranian government to deal justly in the matter. 

As a church we should speak all speak out for those who risk everything to come here from war-torn countries, or from places of violence, oppression and extreme poverty, and receive them with generosity and understanding. 

Spirit of the Risen Christ, be with us today and always. Be our Light, our Guide, and our Comforter. Be our Strength, our Courage, and our Sanctifier. May this new year be a time of deep spiritual growth for us, A time of welcoming your graces and gifts, A time for forgiving freely and unconditionally, A time for growing in virtue and goodness. Come, Holy Spirit, Be with us today and always. Amen

With best wishes for 2022