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Thanks to Gareth Thomas for the photograph

The recently posted review of the year gives the bare bones of our statistics, but here I want to put some flesh on those bones.

New Years’ Eve is an appropriate moment to thank those who write and read this blog. This has been a hectic year for AATW. The departure of Jessica coincided with the need to take the blog private for a while, and there was more than one moment during that period when it was unclear whether we would continue. We did. I am grateful to all those who signed up when we went private, as well as to my fellow contributors here, not least Geoffrey, Neo and Dave Smith, but all played their part, and we ought to note that quiavideruntoculi holds the record for the most popular post. This is an unusual place as it encompasses the widest possible range of Christian beliefs, and we have had posts from an Orthodox point of view from orthodoxgirl99 (from whom we’d welcome more), and, at the other end, from Bosco with his, shall we say, unique ‘take’. Rob and Geoffrey provide, as has Nicholas (who is much missed), a broadly Evangelical perspective, with Neo offering a Lutheran one, whilst myself, Dave and quiavideruntoculi offer a Catholic one, even if mine tends to be a little Anglican tinged for some.

We have missed some old friends, and if they are reading, thank you, and you are always welcome back. On which theme, of old friends we do not forget, it was a particular delight to welcome back Struans who brought with him news of his reception into the Roman Catholic Church – deo gratias.

One of the features of this place has been the comments columns, and we have a new record on one post of nearly 650! This is a good place then to thank those who do contribute so much there: the ‘original’ (here from the start) David Monier-Williams, Jock MacSporran, another early commentator now back and most welcome (if he and I ever agree, one of us is going to be surprised – and we’re both likely to be wrong), Steve Brown, Phillip Augustine, Grandpa Zeke and the (thankfully) irrepressible Ginny – all of whom contribute so much to the ethos of this place. I would also like to thank two great supporters who boost us on Twitter and have been friends of this place from the start – Gareth Thomas (whose contributions were much appreciated) and the mysterious #savedpusson, BruvverEccles. All of you have made a unique contribution, and, as the person who suddenly found himself in charge of this ship, I have had occasion to be thankful for all your contributions.

Which brings me, last, but certainly not least, to the ‘onlie begetter’ of this place, Jessica Hof. This time last year we were not sure she would still be here this year. There was not a time when it seemed likely that she would be back blogging. Neo, who has been her great support, suggested (following a suggestion from Steve Brown) that we ran a series of her old posts, rightly noting to me that there was much good there that newer readers might have missed, and older ones would welcome – thus was born Saturday JessIt was with some amazement that this was shortly followed by Jessica’s first post in over a year – since when she has, in her own unique way, returned to us. Her recent posts on the nature of hell have shown that her instinct for thought-provoking posts is fully intact, and the tone she brings is one that none of the rest of us can quite manage; I wish I could catch it!

So, we have finished 2015 in a quite different place than we started. I remain conscious that those who helped cause us to go private still lurk – well, the bad news is twofold, we are still here, and I forgive you. We are still here because, according to our very different traditions, we bear witness to the hope that is in us – that is the hope of Our Lord Jesus Christ. As this is something I rarely allow myself, a self-indulgent post, I should like to thank all of you, old and new readers, old and new contributors, regulars and occasionals, and to wish you all a Happy New Year – and look forward to your company in 2016.