"Who do you think you are?".
No, not the
response of an irate parishioner (not yet anyway!), but the name
of a TV programme that I am sure will be familiar to many of
you. And no doubt like me, you too have watched fascinated as
one celebrity after another discovers new and unexpected aspects
of their family history. Well, a New Year with all the feelings
of new beginnings feels like a good time to ask ourselves that
question and reflect on how we might answer it personally....
are strange things. They can intrigue us, horrify us, scandalise
us or give us a new sense of belonging and pride. But this whole
subject has been brought home to me in a new way because of a
letter - a rather sad letter - that came my way this December.
I cannot go into details, but the person concerned had discovered
something about an unsuspected family history that linked them
to this village. And although they had never followed it up,
they wondered if 'such and such a relative' might still be alive?
get requests from people wanting to trace members of their family;
to discover something about the past. I am extremely grateful
for all the work that Peter Leigh - our local historian - does
in fielding many of these requests. Otherwise your Vicar might
spend all her time trying to search through historic registers
- and while it is fascinating, frankly I am more concerned with
my living flock than the one buried in the churchyard!
But just occasionally
the request is a bit different, and I have to get involved personally.
Such was this case. Unfortunately the person concerned had already
died - and any oppportunity for contact to be made with distant
relatives now seems impossible.
We all need
to know something of our roots and origins - whatever they may
be; whatever family tragedies or triumphs may be concealed within
our personal histories. And we have really such a short time
on this earth to make our mark; claim our little place in history;
before the tide of the future sweeps on and overwhelms us.
So what I am
leading up to saying is this: if there is anything that you have
been meaning to get around to - but keep putting off, for whatever
reason.... don't delay further. Make 2012 the year when you make
the phone call, write the letter, or send the email or text ...
you never know what untold stories there may be waiting for you.
To face the future, it helps if we truly understand the past.
God of this new year, we pray for the days to come.
We have heard your offer to make us new if we will put our trust
in the saving love of Jesus.
With your help we will open our hearts and minds to take into
our lives the power of your transforming Spirit.
May God bless you and send you a happy New Year.