New Year Message


May this be a Year of Simplicity, Forgiveness and Gratitude. The opposite of these – the three demons of Debt, Complaint and Violence - have threatened the world in 2013.


Debt is often a misplaced response to greed or to low self esteem. Many people have taken loans they cannot afford to repay in order to buy expensive gifts for fear they will be looked down upon if they don’t, a guilt that advertisers manipulate. The Community of Aidan and Hilda invites us ‘to live simply that others may simply live’ and to pray ‘Keep us in the beautiful attitudes – joyful, simple and gentle’. This year let us purchase supplies and invest our money only in businesses we can trust.


Violence has been used by states who misuse power and by angry citizens who gun down people they disagree with. Two wrongs don’t make a right. The use of violence to change wrongs inflicted on the world multiplies the problem. Vibrant Coptic churches across the length of the Nile have been burned to the ground by ego-centred aggressors. Their members might have reacted angrily, but their Pope said the aggressors had only succeeded in destroying buildings - the church was not buildings, but people. Instead of seeking revenge, these Christians erected huge banners declaring forgiveness to the perpetrators. This had a huge effect on ordinary moderate Muslims who love God and neighbour.


A culture of contempt in the media, litigation in public services and complaining in everyday life has taken its miserable hold. It drains the world of joy. The antidote is to cultivate the habit of gratitude.

2014 marks the 1400th anniversary of the birth of Saint Hilda of Whitby, one of the first millennium’s greatest women, who during her final six years of debilitating illness and trials never ceased to give thanks. A school and a church on UK’s Hartlepool Headland, where Hilda led her first community of men and women, launched A Year of Hilda on her death day, November 17, and in March my book on Hilda will be published by the Bible Reading Fellowship. Among the diverse celebrations, what could be better than to challenge children and adults to see who can make the longest list of things in one day for which to give thanks? Part of the Community of Aidan and Hilda’s DNA, inspired by Hilda’s encouragement of Caedmon, the first illiterate faith singer in English, is to ‘unlock the song in every human heart’.

We may think ‘What difference can one person like me make?’ As we begin a new year let us take to heart these words of a young person at a gathering of new communities: ‘Everything we do for God or our neighbour is like a tiny pebble dropped into a pool. We may never know the impact it has on humanity as the ripples spread out’.

God Bless you. Ray Simpson

Posted at 06:59am on 29th December 2013
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