Bishop's letter: Hope in deed

18th December 2023

Bishop Michael addresses Portishead Deanery Gathering

I’d love to be writing a sunny New Year’s article reflecting a boundless global optimism about the future. Yet the reality is very different. War in Ukraine drags on and tensions in the Middle East remain dangerous. The cost-of-living crisis continues and many are finding things tough. Pessimism rather than optimism is the order of our day.

In such circumstances, where can hope be found? For Christians, confidence and assurance rest in the promise of the future that God has in store for us. In the Bible God says: ‘See, I am making all things new. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end’ (Revelation 21: 5-6). Christian hope is that whatever may be happening to us now, God has a very different and favourable future in store for us.

Critically, the point of such hope is not just to enable us to say ‘Well don’t worry about present circumstances. It’s all going to be all right eventually.’ Hope’s purpose is to shape how we live and what we do now. It’s to enable us to live out the words of the old Christian Aid poster that said, ‘We believe in life before death’.

Towards the end of last year, I had the privilege of visiting a number of the deaneries of our diocese. On those visits I heard at first-hand how through the work of our parishes, schools and chaplaincies, Christian hope translates into practical action for good amongst the everyday lives of local communities. We are offering debt counselling and food banks, support for families and care of the lonely and isolated. All these and many more were amazing examples of how we can join with God to ‘make all things new’ right here, right now.

So as we start a new year, please can I encourage us all not to stare into our glasses, lamenting their being half full? Rather, through how we live and what we do, let us fill them with the new wine of God’s kingdom – overflowing to the brim. For that is hope in deed.

Bishop Michael

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