So the decorations have come down. It always seems sad to me the start of a new year is heralded by all the twinkling lights going back into the box. January surely is the time we could use a bit of light…
We had a precious Christmas time along our Riverbank. It’s a great privilege to share special moments with our Riverbank family. The first visit to Santa, a Christmas dinner, the unwrapping of presents. Even in what can be a difficult season for many we saw glimpses of great Joy and were thrilled to get to be a part of it.

But the message we heard this Christmas, that’s the bit we never put back in the box, the cracker that doesn’t have to wait to be pulled for another year. Because the truth that Jesus has come to be with us, to give life to us and to bless others through us, is one that remains long after the decorations have come down.

It’s a light that burns on into the dark winter months, that says Christmas is for always. Joy is here to stay.

And as we walk into a new year alongside the Riverbank families that we know and love, we face alongside them much uncertainty. Ongoing housing crises, economic hardship and painful relationship breakdowns are the reality that many of the families we support are facing as we start a new year. I continue to be painfully aware of the gap between the needs of the families we support and the resources we have at Riverbank to meet those needs, and know that in so many circumstances we, as ordinary humans, have not the answers nor the understanding to bring the healing so deeply needed. And yet as I was reminded in a sermon so wonderfully at the start of this year: we are ordinary people but we follow and serve an extraordinary God.

An extraordinary God who has an extraordinary plan for all our lives. An extraordinary God who can do the impossible, who seeks out the most unlikely and who loves us unendingly. And so He is the God that at Riverbank we turn to and choose to follow again this year. He’s the God that we love to tell about to our families who don’t yet know Him; He’s the God on whom we depend for all our needs – the ordinary needs and the not so ordinary.

And as we do that we find that our Riverbank is constantly lit up by His light, shining bright into the darkest corners, and lighting up a future full of hope.

January 2016
Ellie Hughes