February 2018

I hope you had a lovely Christmas and a good start to the New Year. I am so cheered by how much support we had for our services in the festive period. This New Year, I have seen many people that I had not seen before: jogging, walking and cycling as I drive through the villages. This is despite the very wintery conditions. I guess it's a commitment to a New Year's resolution?

I myself have resolved to reduce snacking to salads and greens, have a regular exercise routine and devote more time to prayer (yes, often vicars do lag behind). If I say so myself, I have done pretty well in the "reduce snacking" part and have stuck to eating salads mainly and snacking very little. Not very well I am afraid on the exercise bit: I have only exercised twice thus far – I blame the weather; I know, excuses, excuses! Not too bad on the third resolution. I have read a bible passage and prayed regularly in the morning – done it for seven days out of nine.

I guess New Year's resolutions are very helpful even if the statistics on keeping resolutions don't look good. The bleakest piece of research comes from the Americans who seem to be more on the ball with statistics and according to their research 92% of New Year's resolutions fail; meaning only 8% succeed. However, the good news is that even if they had only stuck to it for eight weeks, people had nonetheless seen benefits. Despite this statistic I hope you will stick to your resolution for as long as you can. Particularly for twelve weeks, if possible: Dr Phillippa Lally of University College London is more specific; overall, although there are lots of qualifiers and variants, sixty-six days is the threshold for new habit formation. If you are undecided about your resolution for the New Year however, it is not too late. Let me indulge you. I have a suggestion notwithstanding the fact that most New Year's resolutions are about one's health: What about volunteering? One thing that really attracted me as a young person to this type of resolution was community engagement. Many resolutions I made were about myself and had to be done on my own. However, I enjoyed activity with other people. Often because of activities such as volunteering, people do experience the by-product of better health. One study found that those who volunteer more than 100 hours a year tend to live longer, have better mental, social and emotional health and what's more, had leaner mid sections!

For Christians, volunteering in the Church is a big part of their devotion to Jesus. If not for volunteers, on a human level, there wouldn't be a church. Jesus called people to follow him. Obedience to the teachings of Jesus is what they are called to do. However, it is voluntary. It is a choice you make – even if you grew up in a Christian household. I would love for my children to be committed Christians, but I cannot force them. I continue to teach them the faith but it is their choice. Matthew records that Jesus called Peter and his brother Andrew to follow him. These two were Jesus' earliest volunteers and the sons of Zebedee (James and John) became followers as well, and then Philip and Nathaniel. Soon they were 12, then 120, then 3000, which soon grew to 5000. Today close to a third of the world are associated with the Christian faith.

While the church is a large volunteer organisation there is so much volunteering that also takes place in our communities of Totternhoe, Stanbridge and Tilsworth. We who live here are better for it. So find something that you can do and make it a resolution to volunteer. If you wanted to volunteer to do something for one of the three churches we wouldn't say no! We would be really glad – and I know for sure that church members are really grateful for the many villagers who are not regular members but still help, especially with fundraising. We are thankful to you and to God for you. Something that we are particularly looking for at the moment are those who can play a musical instrument (I mean more than playing spoons – but no disrespect if you do!) Alongside that we are also looking for those who can sing; we are hoping form a Community Gospel Choir and create opportunities to sing. I am sure there are many who know someone who can sing or play an instrument. Please get in touch.

Happy Resolutions! Many Blessings for this Year!