2013 has arrived, an arbitrary line in our western keeping of time, but still a new beginning. What does this year hold?
Family: eldest sits her Highers, so will start to set her course for her life for next decade or two. Youngest will move from primary to secondary school. That means all three children, for one academic year, will be at the same school! Remarkable!
Churches: who knows what God, the bishop and the congregations might have in store for us this year. The church building in Dunoon should (all being well) be significantly restored over the summer months with a lottery and heritage grant. It will still need a never-ending programme of development, decoration and repair, but this will be a step change in the dryness, soundness and in rottenness of the place. On a smaller scale, Rothesay will be going down the same route, with grants, repairs, maybe even a new heating system.
But it isn't about the buildings. Repairing and upgrading them is a symptom of what I pray will be happening in them. There is only any point in having a building if there is a living community to meet, worship and grow within them. The episcopalians of Cowal and Bute will continue to gather, to support each other and to worship in our tradition.
Wider matters: the Archbishop of Canterbury doesn't matter too much up here, but the flavour of the Anglican Communion matters to us here. Our own province will continue to grapple with mission, finance, Scottish independence (or otherwise), and, as ever, issues of sexuality, marriage and so forth. Our business may be growing local communities but the wider context affects how and why we do this.
Personal: I end my first three years in the charges, the diocese and the province this June. The canons allowed me three years as priest in charge (renewable) to see how we would get on. I suspect the three years will be renewed, or maybe even the suspension on the charges lifted (if not this year, in the next year or two). My new duties as the dean of the diocese will be a new challenge, trying to help and encourage charges in a wider context. There are some issues, some unhappiness, some things that need to be discussed and agreed. So I look forward to getting to grips with these issues after the New Year break. It is all about God's plans for us.
So an interesting 2013 awaits, in a very positive sense.