At the beginning of a new calendar year, with the excesses and celebrations of Christmas and New Year behind us, we are prone to gaze somewhat forlornly at the fuller, more shapely, self reflected in the mirror.  We resolve to get fit and back into shape.

And our resolution is all the more piqued by the offers to join gyms and fitness clubs for discount prices and great offers.

But the experience of many, indeed my own, is that in the gloomier darker days of winter, the temptation is to rest in comfort, by the fire and not to put on gym gear, run outside and get wet and cold.

However, many will speak well to the benefits of losing unnecessary weight, keeping fit and feeling good about engaging in exercise.  And I suspect that they achieve this because they develop the habit of exercise, not as a reaction to a period of excess, but as a regular discipline in respect for themselves and their bodies.

So, as we embark on a new decade in early 2020, it is very much the same in respect of our spiritual selves.  If we are a bit flabby in that respect, here are some pointers to consider (and none are too good to be true):

1. What you put into your body makes a difference: so it is with your mind, your heart and your soul.  To be properly fed spiritually, we need to regularly pray, share in worship within our community and read the bible, God’s word to us.  These are really good habits to get into.

2. I’m afraid this is also involves regular exercise.  A runner who doesn’t train for a race might not finish or might come far down the field.  So what we learn in church and read in the bible needs to be put into practice regularly. Like a tree planted where there is good soil and regular water, faith that is healthy should bear good fruit and we should be known for our goodness.

3. This all takes discipline. Just as with gym going or physical exercise, our spiritual habits can be tough to keep because they aren’t always flashy or easy.  We won’t always want to keep them. But these habits are vital to keep us on the right track in life.  And thankfully, we are not on our own.  God has given us Jesus and the Holy Spirit to support and encourage us.  The important thing to remember is that if we drop the ball, we can get back up and start again.

All of us at St Mary the Virgin will welcome you anytime you want to come and share in worship with us.  And a very happy, healthy and yes – spiritually fit – New Year!