A New Year Message from the Dean of Belfast, the Very Rev John Mann.
Christians have a traditional way of speaking about each year by referring it to Christ. We say, “The year of our Lord 2015” as we begin this new calendar year. That means more than simply recording the number of years since the birth of Jesus, it encourages us to dedicate the year to him from its very first day and hour. None of us know what the year ahead will hold, but in trust we live each day with him and for him. That means doing the same for each other.
Twice in the past couple of years I have witnessed church leaders making a pact of unity and have been part of it myself. It has meant vowing that we shall live for each other and pledging our lives to each other. It is a moving and powerful statement of togetherness and mutual commitment to Christ that goes beyond our differences of understanding about some profoundly important things, to experiencing a oneness that unites us around the person of Christ, who on the eighth day of Christmas (1st January in our calendar) was given the name ‘Jesus’ – Saviour.
In a broken and divided world religious people of all faiths have a responsibility to build bridges and help bring healing to the wounded in mind or body or spirit. As we enter a new year, we do so acutely aware of the needs of many people in our society, who are suffering as a result of cutbacks or problems from the past, but we are also deeply thankful for the hard work and dedication of so many generous and wonderful people who are our neighbours and friends; who sit beside us on the bus; serve us in shops; tend to our needs in hospital and nursing home; teach our children or grandchildren; keep us safe in our homes and on our roads.
My prayer for 2015 is that we may find within our hearts the spirit of thanksgiving; the will to forgive; the encouragement of hope and the blessing of Christ, and, each in our own way, the desire to imitate him.
*This article first appeared in the Belfast Telegraph on January 1 2015.