Had I, at the start of 2016, predicted that by now the country would be set on a course for leaving the EU, David Cameron, having only recently won an historic election victory, would be no longer Prime Minister to be replaced by Theresa May, Russia would be an ascendant power in the Middle East, and America would elect the host of the US version of The Apprentice as its 45th president, you might have looked rather askance at me.
Had I thrown in that Leicester City would win the Premier League, you might have finally concluded that I had lost the plot!
And yet 2016 was an unpredictable year, a year of surprises and shocks. What, I wonder, will 2017 bring? I hope and pray that it will bring joy and happiness to you, and the peace that the world so desperately needs it.
Whatever it brings, it is in the nature of life that it will bring surprises. Some of the surprises will be welcome - the gift of a child, a new job. Other surprises - a bereavement, redundancy or illness, will not be welcome and difficult to cope with. Life is predicable only in so far as it is unpredictable.
Making sense of life with all its unpredictability, whether for good or bad, is one of its challenges. It is also an invitation. An invitation to ask the big questions “why is the world like it is?”, “has life got a meaning?”, “what is the purpose of my life - where do I fit in?”. These are huge questions.
Sometimes it is good, in the routine of life, to pause and to ask big questions. Each year at St James’ we hold an Alpha Course where such questions can be explored. It is a course during which no question is either too trivial or too hostile, that grapples with the meaning of life and faith.
It’s a new year. Here’s an invitation for you. You would be warmly welcome to join with others exploring the meaning of life at the Alpha Course beginning on April 16. To find out more, call 01937 583074.
Priest in Charge
St James’, Wetherby with Linton