New Year messages from the Bishop of Blackburn and Bishop of Burnley

Bishop Julian Henderson in front of a bookshelf
Published: 28 December 2017
Category: Featured News

Bishop Julian Henderson’s message

Looking back on the year we have just lived through, I wonder which events from 2017 might stay in your mind? For me it’s what was going on in the country of Yemen. The terrible devastation of blockades in the Yemeni port to stop aid getting through to those who needed it most, coupled with the bombing campaigns. Millions of people starving and without enough food to eat is a terrible and frightening story. And there are more. Another recent example is in the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar having to flee their own country to escape persecution. Of course, it’s events like those in Yemen and Myanmar which also put our lives here in the United Kingdom and in Lancashire into perspective. While not everything is going to be perfect; things about which we might complain, and rightfully so, there is much to be grateful for and many blessings for which we should be thankful to God. I remember that old, old song ‘Count Your Blessings, Name Them One by One’. While we may have things to complain about, things that are not quite right and could be better, when compared with what many other people have in other parts of the world, we have so many blessings to be thankful for by comparison. I know we will face difficulties in this new year of 2018 but let’s try and remember the bigger picture of what is going on in the rest of the world. Doing that might actually help us to cope better with some of our local trials and difficulties by putting things into perspective. At the same time, let’s also remember the bigger picture of God’s purpose and plan for the world. Yes, there are trials now, but God has a great plan for the world and we look forward to the day when His kingdom comes. From that day, there will be no more death, suffering or pain or any of the things that spoil God’s purposes in this world now. That is something for us to look forward to with joy and expectation. I pray we may all have a healthy perspective on our lives now and in the future; and I wish you and your family a very happy new year. And if, in 2018, you want to join us at one of our parish churches across Lancashire and you aren’t sure where to go, finding the nearest church that suits you and your family couldn’t be easier. Just log on to the recently revamped www.achurchnearyou.com website, which features parishes from across our Diocese here in Lancashire or (if you are away from home visiting friends and family at any point during the year) parishes from across the country. Rt Rev Julian Henderson Bishop of Blackburn  

Bishop Philip North’s Message

The video version of my New Year message this year, which you can watch on the Diocesan YouTube channel, is delivered in front of Turf Moor - the home of Burnley Football Club. Burnley FC are a side who always defy expectations. Usually at the beginning of the season they are written off and everyone says they are going to be relegated. But look what’s happening this season! Thanks to Sean Dyche’s excellent management and a strong sense of team, they are near the top of the premier league pushing for a place in Europe. Burnley itself is also a town that defies expectation; very often written off and told its best days are in the past, yet its economy is starting to do well and there’s a really strong sense of community here.  Recently it was voted the nations’s friendliest town. So this spot is a good place for us to think about our own expectations for 2018. It’s all too easy to set low expectations for ourselves perhaps because we lack self-confidence, or perhaps because of the drip feed of miserable news stories telling us everything is going downhill and the future is a gloomy one with recession and the loss of jobs. Those things can all too easily drag us down, but Christians believe in a God who constantly defies expectations. Look at the life of Jesus - at Cana He defied expectation when He turned huge amounts of water into beautiful wine … what a booze up that must have been! At the Sea of Galilee He defied expectation as He fed a crowd of 5000 from just a few loaves and fish.  And, above all, he defied expectations on the cross when that terrible symbol of death and pain became the tree of life bringing new hope and joy to all of us. With God’s help we too can defy expectations. What will be your expectations in 2018? Because God can help you to meet them. If you are a young person studying at college or school, aim high. If you are someone running a local church, think how you can make a real and noticeable difference in our community this year. If you are a person with a job, think how you can make a difference in the workplace as you make a stand for Christian values. I hope 2018 is a wonderful year for you, but I hope above all it’s a year where you go deeper with God and you find more and more of the gifts that He has in store for you. Set high expectations for yourself about who you can be, because with God’s help all things are possible! And if, in 2018, you want to join us at one of our parish churches across Lancashire and you aren’t sure where to go, finding the nearest church that suits you and your family couldn’t be easier. Just log on to the recently revamped www.achurchnearyou.com website, which features parishes from across our Diocese here in Lancashire or (if you are away from home visiting friends and family at any point during the year) parishes from across the country. Rt Rev Philip North Bishop of Burnley  
 

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