Bishop Philip North’s Message
The video version of my New Year message this year, which you can watch on our 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