Transforming the communities of Essex & East London through Christ’s presence

Bishop Peter’s New Year Message

1st Jan 2021

Bishop Peter’s New Year Message

So it’s a new year.

What are your first questions as 2021 begins? Maybe:

  • Will it be as brutal as last year, as we continue to journey through this pandemic?
  • Will the vaccines work?
  • When will I get one?
  • What about my loved ones?
  • Will I be sick again?
  • Will the economy turn round so can I get a job?
  • Can I cope with much more of this?

First questions are always important?

When we meet someone new, socially or at work, it is always interesting to hear what their first questions will be!

I wonder if you know what the first question in the New Testament is?

Let me tell you. It’s there in Matthew’s Gospel when the mysterious Wise Men or Magi, Eastern astronomers arrive in Jerusalem. They ask  ‘Where is the child born to be king?

The right question, but they ask it of the wrong person: the evil King Herod. You probably know the story. Yet by following the scriptures of the day and the light of a star they make it to Bethlehem and the baby King Jesus.

It’s always important with big questions to ask them of the right people!

You may be asking if the vaccine is safe. The right people: medics and medical scientists have universally said a big YES.  So, if you are offered a vaccine, I hope you will take it. 

One thing has been clear as we look back on 2020: the pandemic has reminded us human beings that we are not in control of this planet.  And the accompanying question for many of us who have faith or are searching for meaning is, where is God in all this?  Perhaps that’s the biggest question for you in 2021.

I can’t answer that big question for you fully, but as we continue in the Christmas story, I simply point you to the title that Jesus was given in the same Gospel, ‘Emmanuel’ which means God is with us.  For me, as a Christian, the heart of the matter is that whatever happens to us in this life, God is with us in Jesus Christ. The vulnerable baby born in a cattle stall, who grew up to touch so many lives for good and then died on a cross rose and from the dead.  He reaches out to us still as the God who is with  us in the bad as well as the good of his creation.

To pervert the words of Simon & Garfunkel’s famous song, God does not give us a bridge over troubled water, but a pathway through it.  He is with us on the journey, in the joy and the despair, in the hopes and fears, in the excitement and the tragedy.  God is with us.

All of life is a pilgrimage, a journey through time with God and others. The longest journey this year for you and me is the journey inward, living with the BIG QUESTIONS that face us.  As you journey through 2021, know that you are not alone.  God is with you - even when you don’t recognise him!



Audio Version