It seems like only yesterday we were welcoming in 2020 and some happily saying goodbye, if not good riddance, to 2019.
There will no doubt be a universal shout of ‘good riddance’ to 2020, and a deep and longing hope that 2021 will indeed be a good year—better in all respects, and especially the year when an effective vaccine is available to put COVID-19 behind us.
As we stand at the gate of a new year, we are realistic enough to know it will have its share of ups and downs. Nonetheless, what will be is not all dependent on fate. In a world of challenges and opportunities, we can also decide what will be. We can seize the day, dream big, and accomplish great things.
As Anglican Christians, we are committed to God and to the common good. We have “one foot in temple and one foot in the public square.” With our spirituality rooted in Christ, who taught us to “love God and neighbour,” we are empowered by the Holy Spirit to step boldly into a new year and into every situation, capable of achieving all we can hope for and imagine.
As followers of Jesus Christ, as Newfoundlanders & Labradorians, and as Canadians, we have a calling and a responsibility. We are to make each day count and to contribute to the building up of our faith community, our province, our country, and even our world. We have a role, a mission, and a purpose. We are citizens of the Kingdom of God and citizens of Canada, and indeed of the World. We are called to be much and to do much. We are made in the image and likeness of God; we are more than flesh and blood, we are also spirit, and we are on a transformative and transforming journey, co-partnering with God to make all things new.
It is imperative that we have a vision. Without a vision a people perish, Scripture says. As Anglicans here in Newfoundland and Labrador, we can set a vision for our church and share with the wider community in setting a vision for our province. One of the things we have in common as a church and a province is the need to “grow our numbers.” The population of NL is decreasing year after year. The population of Japan is 126.5 million people (as of 2018). All these millions of people fit into a land smaller than NL. Ireland has a population of 4.904 million people (as of 2019). NL is 4 times the size of Ireland and yet Ireland has almost 10 times the population of NL.
How can we grow our population? Is it through an intentional increase of the birthrate? Is it through increased immigration? Is it through incentives to encourage local people to stay home and fellow Canadians to move to NL? Is it a combination of all these? One thing is certain, unless we have a vision for population growth, each year there will be fewer and fewer of us and eventually we will be in a major crisis with too few people to provide even basic services.
We can dream big. We can have vision that includes doubling our population by a certain date in the future and can encourage annual growth with appropriate incentives along with measurements to determine their effectiveness.
On May 25th, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced the goal of landing a\man on the moon by the end of the decade. His goal was achieved on July 20th, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the lunar module’s ladder and onto the moon’s surface.
Landing a man on the moon all began with a dream, a vision, a challenge, and a goal.
Where there is vision, the people flourish!
Let us dream, vision, set goals, and plan. Let us make 2021 the start of a new and brighter future for our church, our province, our country, and our world.
We are inspired by the very creative and creating nature of God. “In the beginning God looked over the earth that was formless, empty, and dark. God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light!”(Genesis 1:3)
We are made in the image and likeness of God. We are called to be co-creators with God.
We are given all we need to dream, to vision, to plan, to act, and to achieve.
Let us grow and build and make all things new.
In our looking forward, we also look back and honour those who left us in 2020. With our Diocese of Western Newfoundland, I remember especially Bishop Geoff Peddle, entrusting him to God’s eternal love and light, and upholding in prayer his beloved Kathy, his sons Adam and Ben, his brother Gerry, former Chaplain General, and all family members.
Amidst the challenges and sorrows of life, we turn to God, seeking solace and consolation.
In Christmas we see a child in a manager who is our Prince of Peace. Following His example, we re-commit to upholding one another in love and prayer, and, with the aid of the Holy Spirit, continuing the journey of faithful co-creating with God.
Placing our hand into God’s, we pass through the gate of a new year with faith, hope, peace, and love.