SO that was Christmas. We have been busy preparing (or not). We have met up with family and friends - had too much to eat and drink and now life continues. A quieter week and then we have a New Year to cope with. Our normal routines restart.

In church we have been celebrating the birth of the baby Jesus. We look on him as the light of the world – arriving (in this country) in the darkest part of the year. At least days will be getting longer from here!

For his parents, Mary and Joseph, all had changed. They came to Bethlehem as a couple and left with a newborn baby. They had much more to learn as they set off with this most unexpected of new starts.

Jesus however didn’t come into the world just as part of this one family. We believe the baby was God’s work and his life was a sign of God’s commitment to us and our world. In the light of this great gift for us, now is a good time to think through our priorities. It’s a good time to remember the stories of how Jesus went out, met strangers and listened to their stories. How he helped so many people around him who were finding life tough.

These may be dark and difficult times for us. However, it could be the best time to think about what is really important to us. Maybe meeting with our own families might open our eyes to support that we could give to them. As we look around at our local community there may be people who we could help – and they may help us. There may be voluntary organisations looking for new people.

So, as we look forward to this New Year let us think about the people whom we can help. We may be surprised by what we receive in return.

Tim Calow

Associate Priest, Embsay