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I hope that you experience the kindness of others, says Inverness Minister Rev James Bissett in New Year message

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Rev James Bissett, minister of St Stephen's Church, reflects on his hopes for 2023.
Rev James Bissett, minister of St Stephen's Church, reflects on his hopes for 2023.

“I suppose this will be a busy time of the year for you, Rev?” Words ministers will hear from concerned members of their congregations many times through December.

And it’s true, especially when there’s two ministers in the house, meaning that my wife, Rev Susan Cord from Killearnan and Knockbain, and I have to carefully synchronise our diaries to make sure we actually see each other, and most importantly, make sure the dog gets walked – there’s only so many hours in a day.

What we now have is just short of 8760 hours to fill – a whole new year. And yet, after the events of the past few years, I’m not sure I want a new year of the same.

Could I pick and choose parts of previous years to fill it, and make a compilation year? A month or so from 1995 when I worked for Butlins? Forty-five minutes from the first time I soared in a glider with the Air Cadets? The January afternoon rock climbing when Susan and I realised we were more than just friends?

What I would like to include is a good chunk of last year.

It’s been a little over a year since Old High St Stephen’s church asked me to be their locum, and in that time I’ve seen a lot of Inverness, the good and the bad.

When I last wrote in the Inverness Courier, I wrote about the concerns people have shared with me about the cost of living, and their worries about whether or not they would be able to heat just one room.

Praying for an end to food bank need

Those concerns are not exclusive to Inverness, and most certainly have not gone away, but I’ve been very impressed by the ways in which people in Inverness have rallied to help.

My own congregation of Old High St Stephen’s, like many other churches and groups in the area, has collected food and clothing to help those in need, and have tried to help out where they can.

I won’t even be offended if the only reason you come to my church is so you can get a bit of warmth for an hour and a cup of tea afterwards (yes, I’ve had this happen).

At Café 1668, where I help out, there’s always a bite to eat available for folk who are in need, as well as advice and support.

Angela Ellis, Duncan Marshall, Roy Harrison and James Bissett. Picture: Callum Mackay..
Angela Ellis, Duncan Marshall, Roy Harrison and James Bissett. Picture: Callum Mackay..

That’s just two organisations out of many in town who are helping out. The people of Inverness are good people, and it’s not such a bad place to live.

My prayer for you, the people of Inverness, is that your year is filled with good moments. I hope you find ways to do what you can to help. And I hope that you experience the kindness of others.

So rather than making New Year’s resolutions which will probably be broken pretty quickly, may I suggest we spend the year being grateful for the good things, great and small that fill the year to come.

It’s very easy to focus on the negative, especially in these times of uncertainty. However, if we only focus on the negative, that’s all we’ll see.

I’d like us all to have some good memories of this year to take away. Moments where, if we were given the chance, they could be used for our own compilation year. Then, when we look back on 2023’s 8760 hours, we’ll be able to look back at a year well spent.

May you and yours know peace and joy this year.

Rev James Bissett is locum minister at Old High St Stephen’s Church in Inverness.

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