Another year has come and gone. The passage of time is quite amazing, especially its seeming increasing speed with age! I am facing a big birthday this month with a naught at the end so the passage of time is something I am particularly aware of!
As a vicar I am also aware as I look back on the year of how some people are no longer with us. Everybody experiences bereavement at some point; it is a fact of life that we all die. As a vicar I am very aware of how fragile the hold on life can be. It is one of the sad tasks of my role that I have to take funerals for those who have died suddenly. Life has many ups and downs. I have had my brush with mortality having had cancer over twenty years ago. So at this point of entry into the New Year it is good to pause and take stock. Each of us receives a portion of life and none us know how large that portion is. It’s a bit like finding a battery in a drawer which lights the bulb in the torch, but we can never be quite sure how long the battery’s life is. We all have some responsibility in keeping the life source in tip top order, so should avoid smoking and excessive drink; in fact anything which basically attacks the life we have. Sadly it is also true that even the seemingly fittest person can have something unknown which can bring a speedy termination. Sadly we also have to cope with things that can happen to us. Road accidents happen (something else which can be reduced by driving more safely!), and as well as other awful tragedies. The last year has seen the terrible events of the Shoreham air disaster and the sickening attacks in Paris. None of the victims involved in these knew that when they got up that morning it was their last day on earth. There are important lessons for us all to learn from these things. Accept that death comes to us all and do what we can to be prepared – spiritually, as well as materially. Are we ready to stand before our maker? Is there something we need to sort out before it is too late? For as much as we are able, seek to be at peace with those around us, and especially those that we love. I knew someone once who had argued with his wife the morning she had driven off to work and been killed in a road accident. As it has it in the Prayer Book prayer; Lord, keep us from dying unprepared. May this prayer be answered for us all in 2016.