Thursday 31 December (Hogmanay)

As we stand on the threshold of a New Year it is good to reflect on what that might hold for us and for our families, but today we look back at the year now ending which has been the strangest year for everyone. Give thanks that despite   all the loss, grief and pain too many have endured, we have been sustained by the goodwill, compassion and dedication of many and that through it all, God’s unfailing love has surrounded us. Give thanks for yesterday’s good news that the AstraZeneca vaccine has now been approved and will be rolled out to the nation and beyond from next Monday. Pray for all who will be involved in this huge task.

Friday 1 January

Today we will be wishing family and friends, even if only “virtually”, a Happy New Year. Pray that each one will know many blessings in it, not least the blessing of good health and safety from Covid. Pray for all working in our hospitals and care homes today and for the patients and residents, especially those in our nearby Cumnor Hall. Pray for those who, in these wintry days will also have to work today to keep our roads open and safe. Remember all those who will spend this day alone and think of someone on their own who might appreciate a call from you to cheer their day.

Saturday 2 January

Give thanks for the children and young people of our parish and for those who prepare special fun and interesting programmes for them to enjoy, despite current restrictions. Give thanks too for our ministers, Scott, David and Roddy who tirelessly serve the congregations at St. Columba and Lochside, even when worship cannot be held in our buildings.

Sunday 3 January

Pray for all who will worship online today or by reading the sermon for the beginning of the New Year and Epiphany-tide on the website or listening to it by telephone. As we reflect on the coming of the wise men to the infant Christ and the gifts they offered, may we remember those of our congregation, whose practical gifts and technical skills so wonderfully enable worship to continue in these ways, during this difficult time, asking that they may feel blessed themselves as they prepare and present the material.

Monday 4 January

Today will be a Bank Holiday all over the country, offering many the opportunity to seek recreation and physical renewal out of doors if the weather allows. Give thanks for the natural world in all its beauty, even in winter, praising the God who created it, giving us fresh air to breathe which revives and restores and which has become even more precious in these days of covid-19.

Tuesday 5 January

Pray for all who will be working from home again, from today, in these next few weeks and for children being home schooled until the schools re-open again. Pray for their teachers and other school staff who will be planning and preparing for that time: asking that they will be given strength and patience for all they will have to do.

Wednesday 6 January

Today is the feast of the Epiphany and also the twelfth day of Christmas when decorations will have to come down. Give thanks for whatever you have been able to enjoy, even remotely, during the very different festive season of 2020 and as you clear up house and put away Christmas trees and garden lights, pray for those who have not had anything much to enjoy this time like the homeless, the refugees, those out of work, those finding this latest lockdown difficult, those who are ill and those who have lost everything in last week’s earthquake in Croatia. Pray too for those administering the new vaccines and the many people, including some in our own congregation who imaginatively and with care try to maintain contact with our members and work hard to lift spirits and arrange practical help where that is required.