Thankfulness is the emotion which is to the forefront of my mind as we rapidly approach the end of 2023. My time spent as a Deacon in this Parish during the first half of this year was an immensely rewarding experience. The training and encouragement that I received has been invaluable for the early part of my curacy. I am so grateful for all the support I received in the run up to my Ordination to the Priesthood in Christ Church Cathedral in September. My heart was filled with gratitude on that day, firstly in thankfulness to God for His call on my life, secondly to my family and friends for their unwavering support and finally to you all in Taney and St Nahi’s. I was genuinely touched to see so many familiar faces from this Parish in Christ Church Cathedral. The sense of thankfulness has been compounded by the wonderful welcome Dermot, Jamie, Ellen and Kate have received. We are now well settled into ‘Church Lodge’ and looking forward to our first Christmas in Taney Parish.
One of the greatest things I am thankful for is the absolute joy of full-time ministry. I was asked recently if parish ministry was all that I imagined it would be. The person tentatively suggested that sometimes when people are in training for a long time, the actual practice can be underwhelming. I was so grateful to respond that this is definitely not the case. My calling to serve God and each of you has steadily strengthened. I can honestly say it is truly an honour to be among you. I am so thankful that I have been welcomed into people’s homes and hearts. Before I began in this role, I mentioned that my deepest desire was to, in the words of St Paul to the Romans; ‘… rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who are weeping.’ (Romans 12:15). I can truthfully say that in the short time I have been here, I have done both and it is an immense privilege.
As we approach Christmas, I am deeply thankful for the peace we enjoy in this country. I don’t believe any of us can see the images coming from Israel and Palestine and not be shocked. The search for peace was to the forefront of my mind recently, as I visited two refugee centres in our locality where many of the residents are seeking solace and safety from war. It provided a timely personal reminder that in Scripture, following the joy of the Christmas story, Christ himself became a refugee. Saint Matthew details Mary and Joseph fleeing with Jesus to Egypt as they sought refuge from Herod (Matthew 2:13-15). I am greatly encouraged by this Parish’s willingness to show kindness and hospitality to refugees in residence in this area by donating winter clothing (more details on this clothing initiative can be found in Taney News Extra). Christ’s parable of the sheep and the goats reminds us that as we provide welcome and clothing to strangers, we welcome Christ himself (Matthew 25:31-46). As we all journey through Advent preparing to welcome the Christ child, I pray that you too will be able to look back on this year with a sense of gratitude. May you feel surrounded by God’s loving presence and peace this Christmas.
Rev’d Jane Burns