What does 2017 hold for us? Do we approach it with trepidation or with hope? It's a question which is touched on by our bishops in their New Year's messages.
The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines looks forward to the coming year:
There are few people who will not be sad to see the back of 2016. It was a traumatic year for many reasons, and brought us face to face with some uncomfortable truths about human nature and behaviour.
But, Christians are a forward-looking people: we look to learn from and build upon the past, but we look to the future. And here we are realists: we are given no guarantees, but we are tempted by hope. It is hope in the risen Christ that draws us through the present and into the future, firing our minds and imaginations to live hopefully even when the world is struggling. And we are committed to get stuck in – in our family, our community, our region and nation, and our wider world.
Whatever 2017 will bring us – for good or ill – we might remember the words of Isaiah who spoke of God having “engraved us on the palms of his hands”. May 2017 be blessed and may we be a blessing to it.
Writing in the Yorkshire Post, the Bishop of Huddersfield's New year message is one of hope.
"I do have hope" writes Bishop Jonathan Gibbs. "Hope in the faithfulness of God, hope in the power of Jesus Christ to give purpose and direction to the lives of those who follow him, and hope that by following him we can also make a difference to the lives of those around us in our local communities and in the wider world. My conviction, born out of faith in Jesus Christ, is that I am not here on this earth just to look after myself and those close to me. I am here because I am loved by God and I am here to express and pass on that love to others.
"My hope for 2017 is that more and more people will begin to discover the reality of Jesus for themselves and that as a result they will start to find a new purpose and meaning for their lives. Not based on blind optimism or on Mr Micawber’s empty belief that something will turn up, but based on seeing something of who Jesus is and also something of the difference he can make in the lives of those who follow him."
Just returned from visiting the Holy Land, the Bishop of Wakefield, Tony Robinson has written in the January edition of the Leeds diocesan bulletin. He reflects on the Christian hope for the future.
2016 has certainly been a year of highs and lows for the world. We have celebrated the 90th birthday of our monarch; we have a new Prime Minster following the referendum on the European Union, the United States of America has elected a new President for the next four years but the number of conflicts and disputes continues into another year, not least the awful civil war in Syria and the fight against extremists and terrorists.
There will always be challenges facing the world, our country, the Church of England and our own lives. Life has always been so and will be no different in 2017. As usual when you start looking back over every year it is good to focus on the highlights and then, hopefully learn from the lows. Then we need to look forward with hope and faith that 2017 will be a year of adventure, love, happiness, good health and prosperity. We must always hope too that with whatever comes our way we handle it with dignity, strength and pride.
We live in a world of so much hopelessness, despair and depression. It is important to ask what is the basis for our hope. Why do we hope? People can use the word hope in a lot of different ways: "I hope that I get a certain gift for my birthday. I hope that my candidate wins the election. I hope that scientists will find a cure for Alzheimers." We all have different hopes, but what does it mean to have Christian hope?
St. Paul tells us today that everything in the Bible was written so that we might have hope. By hope we become new men and women. In hope we are saved. To live our lives, we need hope.
Making a wish for the New Year, is the same as having hope.