Lancashire’s three Anglican Bishops have issued their annual Christmas messages after what has been a difficult and challenging year for the County.
This page features the Christmas message from the Bishop of Lancaster, Rt Rev Dr Jill Duff.
Bishop Jill's message is also available to read on this page and to view and share on social media now via YouTube. Click above for the video.
Below you will also find a downloadable Word file and pdf file of the message.
You should also start to see all the Bishops' messages appearing in local and regional media across Lancashire on the run up to Christmas.
They also aired on BBC Radio Lancashire during the Sunday morning programme on December 19 presented by Joe Wilson and still available here on BBC Sounds to listen anytime. Listen to Bishop Julian at 03h 08m 20s; Bishop Philip at 01h 47m 20s and Bishop Jill at 01h 22m 30s
Visiting relatives in Lancashire? Looking for a church to attend over Christmas time? Or just haven't been for a while and you want to seek out some Christmas hope and cheer? Simple!
Visit the 'A Church Near You' website and put in your details to find a church nearby where you will be welcome to visit.
The video version of my Christmas message this year, available above, was filmed at the outdoor ice rink in Lancaster.
For full effect of course it was tempting to film this while skating. But I’m not a professional, and my usual experience of ice skating is one of being – OUT OF CONTROL!
And maybe that’s been your experience at some point in this last year – pressures on work and relationships, illness, tiredness and grief – all these can make life seem out of control.
Despite the impression from our Christmas cards (the ‘all was calm’ at the first nativity) a lot of the Christmas story is about being OUT OF CONTROL
Mary – a young teenager, says yes to the power of the Most High overshadowing her.
Joseph – a man of faith, makes up his mind to divorce her quietly – until he hears from God in a dream that he should take Mary to be his wife, despite the scandal this will cause him.
Then there’s the last-minute journey to Bethlehem – 60 miles on a donkey, 8 months pregnant, to be rejected by Joseph’s family and friends. Giving birth in a stable. That sounds rather out of control if you ask me.
In the video version of this message you can see the above words illustrated with pictures painted by one of our retired priests – Stephen Hunt from Shireshead. They are most beautiful images of light in the darkness, when darkness threatens to overwhelm.
I am so grateful for all our retired clergy and lay people in our Diocesan family for all they do and are – seen and unseen.
Meanwhile, I am asking that across Lancashire, God would raise up Abrahams and Sarahs – giants of faith – who will bring to birth spiritual children and grandchildren – more than they can count. It sounds impossible… but as Mary heard from the angel: “Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age. For nothing is impossible with God.”
We have a course in the Diocese running in Blackpool and Burnley. It’s called M:Power, and provides training for urban lay leaders. I taught there last week.
There was the song that they chose to play in the worship – it got hold of my heart and I found myself in tears. The song was Amy Grant - Breath Of Heaven – which is available here on YouTube.
So this Christmas, whatever challenges you face, may you know the blessing of the Father - for Him nothing is impossible, His promises have no expiry date.
May you know the blessing of Jesus, whose light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it.
And may you know the blessing of the dear Holy Spirit, Breath of God overshadowing you, holding you together when everything is out of control, Amen
Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster
Ronnie Semley, December 2021