Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Rev Canon Martyn Griffiths - New Year message

ONE of the privileges of being a priest in an “ancient” parish is that very often there are very old records of the lives and deaths of parishioners easily at hand.

This is the case for both the parishes of St Mary’s, Henley, and Remenham.

It is fascinating to trace families and the major events of the centuries which have affected the population.

Both churches’ records show the terrible effect of, for example, the Plague and the Black Death on the parishioners — in the case of Remenham almost wiping out the entire population of the old village.

It is also fascinating to see one other strange facts about New Year.

It has not always been the case that New Year’s Day was celebrated on January 1.

Until a couple of hundred years ago, the new year began on March 25, which is also the date on which the Church keeps the Feast of the Annunciation, the occasion when the angel, appearing to the Virgin Mary, announces that she is to be the mother of the Son of God.

This in itself was, of course, a new beginning, not just for Mary but for the whole of mankind — God becoming one of us that we might become one with Him.

This “multiplicity” of New Year’s Days should remind us that every day is special to all of us, as a time when we can reflect the love of God as shown us in Jesus Christ.

So perhaps that’s a good New Year’s resolution — to live each day as the start of a new year for ourselves and for those around us; a resolution that stands a chance of lasting longer than January 2! Happy New Year!

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