Saturday, December 31, 2011
Bishop David's New Year Message-Church of England
New Year is a time for predictions. Open your newspaper, or listen to the radio or TV for more than a few minutes, and someone will be talking about what will happen in 2012. Politicians set out their expectations for their policies and parties; sports commentators tell us which individuals and teams will taste success or failure; economists foretell the rise and fall of countries, companies and currencies. I guess it helps fill schedules left bare by the absence of reporters chasing up real stories, but it's all rather a waste of time.
Look back for a moment to 2011 (looking back is another New Year's habit). Twelve months ago nobody was predicting the enormous upheaval across many Arab countries. Nor do I recall hearing about the depth of crisis that would engulf the European single currency and shake the UK coalition government, or that the English rugby team would collapse in complete indiscipline. And when I look on my own personal and family life, the big things of 2011 were not ones that could have been foretold on January 1st.
As well as teaching kindness to animals, that great saint, Francis of Assisi, told his followers that the thing that should give them the greatest pleasure is neither success nor achievement. Rather they should rejoice when they faced the unexpected, without being destroyed or embittered by it. He knew that the absolute sureness and certainty of God's love is the one thing above all others that enables human beings to come through the uncertainties and unpredictability of life's chances, and to do so with their true selves intact. Down the years countless others have shown that same resilience through faith.
So my New Year's wish and prayer for each of you is that in 2012 your faith will be strong enough to carry you through the unanticipated challenges and maybe tragedies that the year will bring. And that even in adversity nothing will extinguish the spark of joy from your life.