This year I have preached most sundays. The move from being an occasional preacher to preaching as a main part of my role has not merely been a change in intensity but a paradigm shift in my preaching. Next year I am particularly looking forward to preaching two long series on John's Gospel, and the book of Isaiah. I'm looking forward to preaching better, and investing less of my identity in doing so. Undoubtedly, the person who gets the most out of my sermons is me, so I'm looking forward to that as well.
There is no doubt that studying for a research degree has led me to engage with theology at a high level. I've learnt a great deal academically, and spiritually, this year by my studies in the book of Revelation and the Gospel of Matthew. Over summer I am reading a great deal of Patristics, and if I work hard, I hope to have a thesis on Chrysostom completed by this time next year.
One of the things I have been challenged about in my thinking, from books such as Total Church, and Bank's Paul's idea of community (currently reading), is that community is not about the feeling of community, but about the sharing of life together under the gospel. In 2009 I'm looking forward to living with the christians in my life, and changing our structures to reflect and enable such a view of 'church'.
2009 looks like being the year that a number of new opportunities take off for us in terms of reaching out to people in our local community. Due to the nature of my position here and its length, 2009 *is* the year of new beginnings, and I pray that they grow in the years to come to be long-term, relational, missional engagements with the lost.