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Bishop Ian’s Christmas message for the Yarmouth Mercury

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What are you looking forward to in the year to come? It promises some momentous occasions.  I’m especially looking forward to a visit in the early new year to the Great Yarmouth Christmas Spectacular at the Hippodrome.  We’re taking guests from Ukraine.  We’ve loved having them stay with us but for their sake, I would love 2024 to bring peace to their country so that they can re-build.

There will be some memorable times ahead.  We’re probably going through a General Election in this country; the Paris Olympics will bring excitement and heroes; England will finally win a major football tournament – I hope!  You may have some special times ahead personally, family milestones that will form the memories of the future.  Or perhaps you are just anxious about what lies ahead.  The turning of the year is a turning of the page and a new chapter in all our lives.  We mostly write our own futures by the decisions we make and the options we choose.  I return again and again to a verse in the Bible written by St Paul to a young Church leader called Timothy during the first century.  He said, ‘Godliness with contentment is great gain’ (I Timothy 6:6).  I’ve dwelt with that often.  It reminds me that a life lived well, grounded in the hope Jesus Christ brings to the world and which is expressed in love for God and the people around us, is good for us and for our communities.  Contentment is a goal achievable when we know we are loved and we know we are sharing love. Good times and bad times will come – but love endures all things.

New Year resolutions are overrated in my opinion, the fact is you won’t keep most of them.  Why not go for contentment instead?  Rudyard Kipling asked the question ‘If you can meet with triumph and disaster and treat those two imposters just the same?’ – and to me that is contentment.  As the storms of life blow through what will you do?  I hope you might find stillness from the one who calmed the storm and be content in the knowledge you are deeply loved.

As I write, I’m praying for lots of good things to happen next year, but most especially that we would be a country and a world more at peace with ourselves.  That starts with finding a contentment in our own hearts and I hope and pray that you can.  Have a great 2024.


+Ian Thetford