Happy New Year and Happy New Beginnings

Hi, on this page I will be sharing, reviewing, and recommending resources for children’s, family, and all-age, church-based work. I love to explore and discover new ideas, and creative ways of supporting this fantastic ministry. It’s such a privilege to serve the church and to help make worship meaningful and fun for children and families. I hope you’ll find my ideas and recommendations helpful. 

This photo was taken many years ago on the day I was first ordained and we celebrated my ordination as a family. Yesterday was a great privilege for me to begin the new year by serving in my usual role as a Deacon in the Cathedral. It was also time to renew my vows so that I can continue in my ordained ministry in the Cathedral with PTO (Permission to Officiate) from the Bishop, since I officially retired last July. I count it a great honour to serve the Church in this ministry.

Our theme yesterday was of course the birth, presentation and the naming of Jesus in the Temple. A great start to the new year on the theme of beginnings.  Our preacher Canon Vanessa began her sermon by thinking about the importance of names. This is something I have often thought about in my role as School Chaplain. I find some children’s names quite intriguing and of course there are many more unusual names nowadays that parents decide on for their children.

When renewing my vows yesterday I had to begin by saying……..…I, Irene Euphemia Smale. My middle name as you can see is quite unusual, I was named after my grandmother, and although it means ‘well spoken’ which is quite nice, I have to say as a child I struggled with not only spelling it, but owning up to it in school. Our names are quite significant as we go through life and especially in the early years at school where children can often be unkind if you have an unusual name or one you are embarrassed about. Choosing a baby’s name is so important as they will have to carry it for the rest of their lives.

Mary and Joseph of course had no choice in the matter, they were told by the angel to – ‘Call him Jesus because he will save his people from their sins’. The beginning of a new life in the birth of Jesus and for us today entering into a new year, is something we should rejoice about and look forward to. I am grateful that God ordained times and seasons so that we have the opportunity to stop, take stock and begin again. So, as we begin a new year, I pray each of us will take the opportunity to renew our commitment to Christ and the Christian faith, to seek God’s guidance for the next 365 days and most of all to share the love of Christ with everyone we meet.

A new year and the dawn of new beginnings and new hopes


This is the Benedictus or the Song of Zechariah found in the Gospel of Luke that we can use as a prayer of thanksgiving for the hope we have in Christ the Messiah.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;

he has come to his people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty saviour,

born of the house of his servant David.

Through his holy prophets he promised of old

that he would save us from our enemies,

from the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers

and to remember his holy covenant.

This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:

to set us free from the hands of our enemies,

free to worship him without fear,

holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life.

You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High;

for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,

to give his people knowledge of salvation

by the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our God

the dawn from on high shall break upon us,

to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death,

and to guide our feet into the way of peace.

(Taken from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England, material from which is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000 and published by Church House Publishing.)


This is Ish’s version of Benedictus if you would like to watch it on You Tube I hope it inspires and blesses you.