The potential of life, individually and collectively

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Dr Martin Warner, Bishop of Chichester

Because I’m fairly disorganised, I reckon it’s still not too late to make some new year resolutions.

Part of the knack of doing this is that they need to be simultaneously realistic and demanding; somehow it has to matter if we fail.

While thinking about this I was struck by the title of Alan Bennett’s latest book, Keeping on Keeping on.

What makes Bennett’s writing so attractive is his interest in life that is routine and familiar. If he has celebrity status, it arises from his ability to observe what is familiar to many of us: the NHS, education, shops on the high street and the erosion of municipal landmarks like the library, post office or pub.

In the Christian tradition, the new year is marked by a story that is often only half told by the popular Christmas carols. It’s the story of the Magi – another name in the ancient world for astronomers or seekers of wisdom. 6th January,

The Epiphany, marks their arrival and in many European countries it’s a bigger celebration than Christmas Day.

Something in the night sky drew the Magi to Bethlehem. They saw the fragility and the divine potential of life in the homelessness of the holy family of Mary, Joseph and Jesus.

But the untold story is their return journey.

After an astonishing experience, they return to their homes, to familiar domestic demands and perhaps, as teachers, to a new term and stroppy students who would need to be nurtured and disciplined.

As we return to the routine of work and daily life after the Christmas break, the really challenging areas for resolution are the ones that will keep us alert to the potential of life, individually and collectively.

A new year resolution is not about the invention of a different “me”; it is a deeper exploration of the capacity for good and solid things that God has already given you and me.

Faith Matters:

Christians Against Poverty: Christians Against Poverty or ‘CAP’ is a charity that is passionate about releasing people from a life sentence of poverty, debt, unemployment and addiction. Working with the church we bring good news, hope and freedom to people in the UK. Whether you're feeling the weight of debt, struggling to find work or trying to overcome a dependency – they're here to help. They’ve helped more than 29,000 people a year through our free debt help, job clubs, release groups and CAP Money Courses. You can find out more at www.capuk.org

Daily Prayer: The Church of England has a number of resources to help people to pray and explore the Christian faith. As this is the Chichester Diocese ‘Year of the Bible’ it may be just the right time to begin a journey of exploring or re-connecting with your faith. A pattern of daily prayer is available on the Church of England website and on apps for both Apple and Android phones from the app stores.

Cathedral Labyrinth: From the 1st to 23rd February in Chichester Cathedral, you can come and experience a Labyrinth installation in the north transept (open daily with free entry). This simple installation, created in-house by Diocesan spiritual directors, provides a labyrinthine path for visitors to walk, inviting them to experience this ancient symbol. Although simple in structure, the labyrinth is rich in meaning. Labyrinths have been linked around the world with stories of journeys, encounters and transformation.