Church of England Diocese of Norwich Diss

December's Letter

1 Dec 2019, midnight

Writing for this “turn of the year” issue led me to think of the relationship between the old and the new, and why we so often seem to have such trouble navigating from one to the other. Let’s take Christmas for starters. One of the things many couples find out when staying at the “in-laws” over Christmas for the first time is just how different one family is from another. One watches the Queen’s Speech every year; another may never do so. Some will open presents first thing in the morning, others (small children permitting) wait until after lunch…………… and so on. The point is that each family has developed its own Christmas “traditions” over the years, and their regularity gives a certain feeling of assurance and continuity, no matter how the makeup of the family changes over the years (our own two 20-something boys howled with anguish when we tried doing things differently last year!). The same with Christmas services in church; the old familiar carols, the decorations, the nave fuller than usual, the same time-honoured readings……… and woe betide the cleric or director of music who introduces anything new!

Our Church has nearly twenty-one centuries of time to have built up a whole heap of traditions. Some are kept, some are put aside, sometimes until a later generation rediscovers them. And it’s right to respect what we have been given, even if some things might need storing in the attic for now rather than being used this year. The faith is the same: the message of God’s involvement with and love for we humans, especially in the story of Jesus the Christ, is one of those central pillars that remains a bedrock through the years. “Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever…….”. But, as those same scriptures remind us, God is always “making all things new” and urging us on to fresh insights, new ways of presenting old ideas for new generations.

But we so often find the idea of change uncomfortable. I’m just as bad; I get a full-on attack of Grumpy Old Man syndrome when the supermarket moves things round so things aren’t where they were before. But in searching for the familiar, I have often by happy accident come across something new that rapidly becomes a regular in my shopping.

So, this Christmas and New Year, enjoy the old, look forward to the new. 2020 will be a year of change for all of us in one way or another. As the old poem put it:

“…put your hand into the hand of God.

That shall be to you better than light

And safer than a known way”.

John Cruse, Team Vicar.