An end of year message from the Kirk Moderator

Rt Rev Dr Iain Greenshields, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, writes his end of year message as 2022 comes to a close and we prayerfully look ahead to what 2023 has in store for us all.

What a year, has there been one like it for two or three generations?

The death of Queen Elizabeth, three different Prime Ministers, political and economic chaos, the war in Ukraine, the worst inflation for decades, soaring energy prices and unbelievable floods in Pakistan. The list could go on, adding your own personal narrative to national and international events.

The poorest in society are in distress, fearing the inability to cope through this winter, but churches and other charities are stepping up to the plate to help with food, finance and warm spaces. Local councils are digging deep to make a difference where they can.

Are those of us who have something to spare being generous? Yet, the truth is that we, in world terms, still live in one of the most prosperous parts of planet earth.

I wonder how often we stop and simply express our thanks for all of the things that we take for granted?

There is an old hymn that says, ‘count your blessings, name them one by one and it will surprise you what the Lord has done'.

How would I sum up the year that is now closing?

Gratitude for all of the good experiences, good people and good opportunities in my life. Thankfulness for the gift of life, family and faith in Jesus.

But what about the year to come?

Well, of course, we will bring into 2023 many of the unresolved issues and challenges we have had to face in 2022, but how we face them is as important as what we have to face.

It is obvious to me that we need to re-prioritise our political and social thinking and hold those who lead us more to account.

Close the gap between the haves and the have nots, make the environment our number one priority and insist on an end to spending on nuclear weapons in order to spend more on health, in particular.

At a personal level, learn to be more content and less complaining, more caring towards others than self-indulgent towards ourselves; recovering a sense of society where people matter more than possessions and where all are inspired to thrive and serve at the same time.

Spiritually, it is obvious to me that there is a huge gap in society. I remember standing at the beginning of 1977 feeling that self-same spiritual emptiness, something I sense in so many across all ages today.

I wonder if you have passed some churches with banners outside them saying ‘Try Praying'. Did you ever wonder what that means?

I suppose praying is reaching out beyond yourself, in my experience, to Jesus. Remember, you are speaking to a person who understands you.

What are you expected to say? Just say what is in your heart – what you feel is the deepest sense of need in your life. It may be for forgiveness, hope, peace, meaning in life or even the fear of death.

Simply, try praying and see where that journey might take you.