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When does the year begin?

Most of us would give the obvious answer: 1 January. Of course, that's when most calendars begin, when New Year's resolutions kick in, the date changes. But ask that question of an accountant or a tax adviser and they may answer differently. 6 April is when the tax year begins. Or try a vicar, and they might tell you the year begins on the Sunday nearest the beginning of December - that's Advent Sunday and the church year officially starts then. But if you ask a child, or a teacher, they'll tell you the new year begins in September. And many of us, even if we have no connection with a school anymore, are still affected by those years early on in life when September meant a new class, a new beginning, a new year.

September has that feeling of a fresh start about it. The summer days of August are over, the autumn draws close, it's time to get stuck into work again maybe, or start a new project. It does feel like a great opportunity to begin again, which we may need. Perhaps things haven't gone so well recently, perhaps we could do with a clean slate? Or maybe we're looking for a new challenge, something to get excited about? It often helps me to think about something new I could take on, something that could be different and motivate me through the long autumn stretch.

Whether you're looking for a fresh start or a fresh challenge, consider Alpha (alpha.org). It's a course which has run for many years now, across the world, giving people the chance to investigate Jesus, someone who claimed to be able to give not just a fresh start to people, but a brand new life. It's going to be running at our partner church, St Peter's in Glenfield, from 27 September and everyone is welcome. It could turn out to be the start for you not just of a new year, but the beginning of a whole new adventure.

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