Bishop Alan’s New Year Message
2nd January 2020
The Bishops of St Albans New Year message for 2020:
“I guess all of us have hopes and fears for the coming year. Like many others I’ll be making some New Year Resolutions for myself, but I also have a wish list for 2020. Here are my five top wishes. You might want to add your own.
After a pretty bruising general election, I suggest we stop blaming politicians for everything that’s wrong and take some responsibility to change our communities ourselves. After all, where on earth did the notion come from that politicians and lawyers know best? Though they’ve got an important role to play, many of the greatest things in the world have come from ordinary people working at grassroots. For example, much of the provision for homeless people on the streets is run by voluntary groups, such as the churches. Community organising and tackling problems together is a proven way of making improvements to the lives of ordinary folk, whether it’s addressing poverty or mental health or the growing disparity between the haves and have nots. Let’s find new ways to solve problems together.
Then there’s social media which has promised so much but is now being dominated by trolls and commercial concerns trying to manipulate us. So the second item on my wish list is: we stop using social media to insult or manipulate. Instead, let’s use it to help others. How about each one of us sending a daily email or tweet to affirm someone or something? If enough of do it, we can outnumber the trolls.
Linked to this is my third wish. Why can’t we learn to enjoy living in a society which has free speech? Instead of trying to silence people who don’t agree with us, why can’t we simply find it fascinating that different people have different ideas? Communities all over the world have to live far greater differences than we do in the United Kingdom. So in 2020 why not be content to disagree well and get on with our lives?
With floods across Britain and raging fires devastating parts of Australia, we are facing some pretty stark choices about climate change and the environment. There’s often a feeling that we can’t do enough because of a ‘lack of political will’ but the simple answer to that is for each one of us to change our lifestyle and demand that those in leadership follow our example.
One final wish: we are one of the wealthiest countries in the world with a wonderful history, a rich culture and stunning countryside. Wouldn’t it be refreshing if we put into practise each day the old lessons of thankfulness and joy and throw in a bit more generosity at the same time?
May God give you a joyfull and blessed 2020. Happy New Year!”
+Alan St Albans