Letter from the Right Reverend Peter Hancock, Bishop of Bath and Wells
One more step
By Bishop Peter
January takes its name from the Roman god, Janus, who is usually depicted as having two faces, looking both to the future and the past. At the start of a New Year it is good to do the same.
2020 will sadly be remembered as the year disrupted by COVID-19. Cracks in our care for each other have been revealed and it has had a disproportionate effect on those already vulnerable or deprived. It showed us that those who are most essential to our needs, those who clean and serve and care, are often those valued least in our economy. However, we also saw extraordinary acts of kindness and compassion, as churches and communities worked together to provide comfort, support, and practical care.
So, what of 2021? The temptation may be to forget what we have learnt, to paper over the cracks, ignore what has been uncomfortable and to seek comfort in the familiar. I hope we don’t. 2020 opened our eyes to the harm caused when people are excluded on the basis of race, ability, gender, sexual orientation or wealth. Jesus calls us to a better way. Jesus broke the bounds of exclusion, refusing to accept the social norms and speaking to Samaritans, women, Gentiles, tax collectors and sinners. He teaches that the first shall be last and the last first. He reconciles humanity to God through his death and resurrection.
As we look forward to 2021, we need to think again what it means to follow Christ and to build our lives and communities based on mutual love, respect and service. ‘For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many.’
May we all know the Lord’s leading and guiding as we step out into a New Year.
With my warmest greetings,