– and the January 2024 issue

‘For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ (Isaiah 9:6)

These familiar words of the prophet Isaiah were given by God in a time of equal political and economic uncertainty. The Assyrians had just conquered the northern kingdom of Israel, fulfilling Isaiah’s warnings to the people, who had turned their back on God and his ways. However, Isaiah also brings a word of hope, ‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light’ (2). For Isaiah, it felt as if the future had already arrived! However, after 700 years the promised child was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. For us, facing a New Year, He continues to be an answer to both our needs and questions:

As we prepare for Christmas and the New Year, we are all too aware of the uncertainties which we face next year. Wars and climate change on the international stage, but also in terms of our own private lives – our finances, jobs, and economic prospects for 2024. We can often wonder:  what shall I do?who can help me?who cares for me? and what do I say?

Wonderful Counsellor: He will give us the wisdom we need, when we have difficult decisions to make at work or home, or in dealing with future direction. 

Mighty God: He will provide the help and strength forus to face the difficult diagnosis, the family crisis or relationships breakdown. 

Everlasting Father: He cares for us as a father cares for his children, so we can come to Him when we feel alone or we are really struggling, knowing that He will hear and help us.

Prince of Peace: He has secured peace by His cross and resurrection, and so we can find in Him true acceptance, forgiveness and peace for our lives, relationships and future.

Therefore at the start of 2024, may ‘our joy be increased’, as it was intended for the people in Isaiah’s day. Whatever the mess and mistakes we have made over the past year, God can deal with them. With Him, both our present and our future are secure. 

May we wish you all a very happy and peaceful Christmas and a good start to 2024.

Anne Coomes and the Parish Pump Team