Archive for the month “January, 2014”

A Question for the New Year

One of the people whose books I have enjoyed over the last year or so is an American Christian called Barbara Brown Taylor. She is an Episcopal (Anglican) priest, a teacher and a writer. What I enjoy is her slightly sideways take on life and faith. She always has something to say that jolts me out of the same old ways of thinking and makes me think afresh about faith. One of her best known books is An Altar in the World – finding the sacred beneath our feet (2009).

In this book, she looks at the very ordinary things of life and sees how God is at work in them. She says that we don’t have to be in special places doing special things to find God, but that God is at work in and through us and in and through our everyday lives. She encourages us to make the ordinary special by pausing and sensing God at work in what might be for us unexpected places and ways.

She also says that the book is her response to a conversation:

Many years ago now, a wise old priest invited me to come speak at his church in Alabama.

‘What do you want me to talk about?’ I asked him.

‘Come tell us what is saving your life right now’, he answered.

That’s a good question for a new year: what is saving my life right now?

Thoughts for the New Year 2014

I am just emerging from the blur of December activities, Christmas Services and New Year late nights – it is a busy time of year for Vicars!


So far, 2014 has mostly been about death – 3 here in the first days of 2014. That certainly concentrates the mind on living well. Having spent some time to see the families and sort out the funerals , I am now trying to take some time off  to rest and to think about the year ahead.

I have never been good at New Year’s Resolutions, so I have decided to go back again to some favourite prayers and pieces of writing to set the tone for the year.

This prayer is attributed to Sir Francis Drake, and it is one that encourages me whenever I read it. It is a good one to take into an unknown year ahead.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
With the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wider seas
Where storms will show your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.
We ask You to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.


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