The end of another year...

It’s that time when minds start to turn to the beginning of another year and we start to wonder what 2018 may have in store for us, our families and our world. Some of you may have been glad to leave the old year behind us and be keen to move on while others will be more hesitant knowing that you are leaving the familiar behind to step out into the challenge of the unknown.
I wonder how you will spend the first few hours and days of 2018 and whether traditions are important to you. Do you like to see in the New Year with the Scottish practice of ‘first footing’ or perhaps you may be one of many who will be visiting MK Theatre over the holiday season to see this year’s pantomime, ‘Cinderella’. That was certainly one of the traditions of my childhood; I can remember being taken as a child to the Little Theatre in Southport where I always longed to be one of those invited on to the stage to help to sing the song!
Pantomimes have a long history in this country dating back to 1717 when the first pantomime, ‘Harlequin Executed’ was premiered on Boxing Day. There is something very British about a show where men dress as dames, women dress as the prinicipal boy, everyone wears over the top costumes, a well known story is performed and there are silly songs to join in with as well as the catch phrases we all shout out! And no doubt the tradition will continue for years to come with children shouting "Oh yes it is!" as loudly as ever, and, when the actor in the white sheet waves his arms behind our hero and goes "Whoo" Whooo!", children of all ages will still cry out "Its-behind-you!"
You may know that we have our own tradition in Newport Pagnell of welcoming in the New Year with a walk around the churches in our town on New Year’s Day beginning at 10 am [at the Parish Church and ending around 11.55am at St Luke’s church ...Ed.]. As we pause briefly in each church to offer our prayers together we are reminded again that each of these places is special to those who worship God in them week by week throughout the year. There is something wonderfully tangible about the atmosphere of our churches, created over years, where week by week prayers are offered for all those in need whether they be guests in the night shelter held in Lovatt Hall, those in need of healing who visit St Luke’s, the older people meeting for a cup of tea and a place to chat in the Brooklands Centre and the Methodist Church or the young families making their homes in new developments around our town. Along with offering prayer, each one of our congregations contains many who seek to live out their faith by helping those around them in many different ways.
So whether you are glad to leave the old behind or apprehensive about what the new may have in store for you, it is my prayer that you may discover that 2018 is the year that you will return to church or maybe come and find out for the first time what it is all about. And whichever church you visit in Newport Pagnell we can assure you of the warmest of welcomes.
Happy New Year and every blessing!
Revd Nicola Martyn-Beck
January 2018

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