January has hosted many joys – personal re-invention, number-crunching in our churches, insufficient daylight and frost. This could, therefore, be a collection of words uttering lofty aspirations for our work as Christians in our churches, or some weighty biblical injunction to being ‘better’ (though I tend to say stick to verse 13 of Psalm 139 and let that speak loudest). As I typically laugh in the face of tradition (said the old-style priest), this piece will be different.

In my few weeks in Teddington I have been struck, very deeply, by how much is done voluntarily. This ranges from simple acts of unscripted kindness to neighbours, through hosting events for local residents, to the work of such as the RNLI who voluntarily save your lives on our River. Not a single soul is forced to do these things but many do.

It has been my privilege to get to know many organisations in TW11 – the RNLI, the Teddington Society, the Rotary Club, the Royal British Legion, our youth uniformed organisations, in addition to many individuals who simply and magnificently just ‘do for others’. I look forward to getting to know other volunteer groups and individuals in the months to come. As the vicar of a parish church I have a unique voice in the community and wish to use it for one purpose alone: to thank those of you who volunteer. You are remarkable, and I salute you.

On another note, this year sees one of the earliest Easters that it is possible to have, which in turn means that Lent is fast approaching. It is the custom of churches, including our own, to enter into a course of learning or other spiritual endeavour, and I am delighted to be able to write with details of this year's Lent Course. The title of the course this year is 'Seeking God the Creator' and is a series of sessions reflecting on the Collect for Ash Wednesday (a most wonderful prayer). I am also pleased to announce that I am going to offer this course in two ways - in-person and online, on the Wednesdays in Lent. The content will be the same morning and evening, but you are free to pick and choose which (if either) may work for you.

Please also remember that Ash Wednesday takes place on February 14th. You are encouraged to one or other of our two services that day, as we begin a purposeful and holy Lent.

In the meantime, I wish you a happy ongoing Epiphany and I look forward to seeing you soon,

Fr David