Traditionally our church commemorates the baptism of our Lord on the first Sunday after Epiphany. In the Old Testament reading for services this morning (Isaiah 42: 1-9) we read in verse 9: ‘See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.’

Appropriately enough, therefore, Rev. Yoshioka began her sermon by reading the notice of personnel changes in the diocese with effect from April 1st. Rev. Francis Horio will be retiring this spring, and there will be a series of moves by most of the full-time clergy in Kyushu in consequence. I am sure everyone will wish Rev. Horio a happy retirement after his long service to our church, and will also pray for all those moving from one parish to another.

We also had a short commissioning ceremony for members of our church committee this morning, although, as it happens, there are no changes from last year. Even I am still a member! As I struggled, with my limited Japanese, to keep up with the ceremony and make my commitment at the appropriate time, I reflected upon verse 3 of that reading from Isaiah: ‘A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out’.

With all our imperfections, we may all rejoice that the Messiah does not reject us, but gives us hope for renewal.
My best wishes for a fruitful year in 2014 to everyone!