The diocesan bishop of the Church of England in Lancashire, Reverend Julian Henderson, has released his New Years message. He asks what do we need to learn and do differently in 2022?
I’m writing this New Years post before Christmas which is a real risk because I don’t know what tomorrow or the end of the year will bring.
Directives and regulations change almost hour by hour. And to consider 2022 with any certainty would be foolish. Yes, uncertainty and reluctance to plan is the name of the game.
In a sense, it always has been. None of us really know what lies ahead. An accident or illness often knocks on the door unexpectedly, but the sense of uncertainty has been heightened by the current pandemic; with work, health, family reunions, and travel arrangements likely to change suddenly.
But it also made us appreciate those people and things that give certainty. It is remarkable that Her Majesty the Queen reigned for so long; so well preserved; gave continuity and stability even in his own personal mourning last year and offered clear Christian direction to the nation. May she reign long! But it’s not in our hands or his.
The established church, freedom of speech and belief, our justice system, our health care and NHS social benefits, our schools and academies, are all part of the backbone of our culture that gives this measure security in uncertain times.
However, I am concerned that we have moved away from some of these anchor points for a stable society, by not resourcing them or giving them the priority they deserve. Those on whom we depend the most for our well-being are often the most poorly paid and supported. Yes, the structures are there, but the environment to attract people to take on these crucial roles is often off-putting.
So outside of the pandemic tragedy, I think there is an opportunity to reset the compass. What do we need to learn and do differently in 2022?
It is an opportunity to reset our economy so that it, along with jobs and livelihoods, are based on the essentials rather than the luxury and the non-essential. We have become too dependent on industries and commerce that provide pleasure and pleasure, rather than the basic ingredients of life.
And the economy must also be reset, so that it does not rest on unsustainable and growing debt, leaving future generations to foot the bill.
We have started to reset the value we place on those who work as NHS staff, nursing home workers, teachers, drivers, retailers and manufacturers, all without whom many basic ingredients of everyday life stop. . But there is still a long way to go to accelerate the culture change.
It is also an opportunity to put the compass back to the truth, in our political life, in our media. The tendency to speak out about “my truth” and use deliberate diversionary tactics to distract from the truth has never worked well.
It is an opportunity to redefine the bases of our moral and ethical decisions, in the controversial areas of life, death and human flourishing, on how we reach a point of view and on what authority this point of view is founded.
The start of a new year is traditionally accompanied by resolutions to be and do better in the coming year.
The uncertainty created by the pandemic calls on us to reset the compass on how we live our lives. Focus on what really matters, knowing that none of us are here forever, and in doing so, find the One who made this world amazing and to whom we all are one day to be held accountable.
There is the only true certainty: Jesus Christ is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
And this is why Christians make so much history about him, as the One who brings life in all its fullness.
Very Reverend Julian Henderson
Bishop of Blackburn