Lancashire’s three Anglican Bishops have issued their annual Christmas messages after what has been a difficult and challenging year for the County.
This page features the Christmas message from the Bishop of Burnley, Rt Rev Philip North which begins with a chat with school pupils Isabel and Alex from St Wilfrid's CofE Academy in Blackburn about their hopes for this Christmas.
Bishop Philip's message is also available to read on this page and to view and share on social media now via YouTube. Click above for the video.
Below you will also find a downloadable Word file and pdf file of the message.
You should also start to see all the Bishops' messages appearing in local and regional media across Lancashire on the run up to Christmas.
They also aired on BBC Radio Lancashire during the Sunday morning programme on December 19 presented by Joe Wilson and still available here on BBC Sounds to listen anytime. Listen to Bishop Julian at 03h 08m 20s; Bishop Philip at 01h 47m 20s and Bishop Jill at 01h 22m 30s
Visiting relatives in Lancashire? Looking for a church to attend over Christmas time? Or just haven't been for a while and you want to seek out some Christmas hope and cheer? Simple!
Visit the 'A Church Near You' website and put in your details to find a church nearby where you will be welcome to visit.
No doubt there’s things we are all looking forward to this Christmas. We all have our own customs and things we love to do as families come together but, all of a sudden, those plans have been thrown into uncertainty once again.
The new Omicron variant of COVID means that we are all anxiously watching the news, Christmas parties have been cancelled. All this points to the vulnerability of our lives, the fragility of our bodies; in an uncertain world where can we place our trust?
The Christmas story that we listen to at this time of the year is also full of uncertainty. No doubt Mary and Joseph had made big plans for the birth of their first son. No doubt Joseph had knocked up a lovely crib, no doubt the nappies were all ready to roll, then all of a sudden all those plans are thrown into uncertainty.
They had to travel from one end of the country to the other, all the way to Bethlehem, so Joseph could register and in the end it was a squalid birth, in a stable at the back of an inn. A modern-day equivalent, perhaps, of a pub car park!
Yet, in the midst of all that uncertainty, the One was born in whom we can place our complete trust; because in the straw of the manger, Mary laid her child, Jesus Christ, the One who is God, God with us.
So this will be an odd Christmas. I hope you enjoy yourselves and have a good time, but we are going to be anxious, it is an uncertain year. We’ll be watching the news and wondering what new restrictions are going to be imposed on our lives.
So, in the midst of it all why not take some time to gaze into the manger, to look at Mary’s child, because in that baby we find the One in whom we can place all our trust.
In Jesus we find friendship because He offers us companionship and love. In Jesus we find belonging because He invites us to be part of his family, and in Jesus we can find safety, because that child laid in a manger of straw will die to set us free. Die so we can live with Him for all Eternity.
An uncertain world, an uncertain Christmas, so gaze upon the One in whom we can trust. Look at Jesus and offer your life to Him afresh.
Rt Rev Philip North
Bishop of Burnley
Ronnie Semley, December 2021