Bishops welcome in 2014 with new year messages
Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, Bishop of Blackburn
As the Bishop of Blackburn I am delighted to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year as we enter into 2014.
But we all probably mean something different than what we hear those words to say.
That everything will go smoothly and without an upset.
That we will avoid illnesses and bereavements.
That we will have enough money coming in to manage okay.
That nothing will happen to throw us off course and make us sad.
But life is not like that. It never is and never will be free of difficulty and only for our convenience and comfort.
So as I wish you a ‘Happy New Year’, I mean something more … that we shall not hope for what we want and desire, but be eager to know and do the will of God in our lives, to fulfil His purpose for us, whatever that may be.
For it is in putting Him and His Word at the centre of our lives, that we will find peace and joy and happiness.
The words of the famous hymn puts it very starklyFather hear the prayer we offer; not for ease that prayer shall be,
But for strength that we may ever, live our lives courageously.
Not for ever in green pastures do we ask our way to be;
But the steep and rugged pathway may we tread rejoicingly.And that is what I mean when I wish you a ‘Happy New Year’
Bishop of Lancaster - Rt Rev Michael Campbell OSA
In our western hemisphere we have arrived at that time of the year when the days seem so short and darkness, as it were, has in some way triumphed over light.
It is at this very low point in nature that Christians mark and celebrate the coming of another kind of light into our darkened world, and that light is Jesus Christ.
Part of our Christian faith is the conviction that the new-born child was conceived and born of Mary the Virgin in a manner beyond our understanding.
Mary did indeed conceive him in her womb but, as the Scriptures relate, through the Holy Spirit, and she nurtured, nursed and fed him as her own precious son.
Yet that is only part of the child’s identity, half as it were. The Son of Mary was also the Son of God, and therein is found the wonder and mystery of Christmas.
The Son of God has come among us, to share fully our human life with all its joys and sorrows.
This is what I mean by a light coming into the world and shining upon each one of us.
The tiny and helpless infant lying in the manger would grow up and reveal to the world the wonderful truth that we have a Father in heaven who loves each one of us as his own very special child.
Jesus Christ would teach us the way of love and forgiveness, and that we are all brothers and sisters.
He came to share with us the truths of heaven and the secret of how to live a happy and fulfilled life, in the company of our fellow human beings.
Christmas is a season of light, and therefore of joy, hope and happiness, as evidenced by the variety of Christmas lights and decorations we see all around us.
I wish all readers at this blessed time something of that peace in their hearts and their homes which the Son of God came to bring us. Blessings of the feast to you all!