The Bishop’s Blog: The Cause of Christian Unity

Dear Friends in Christ,

Welcome to this week’s Bishop’s Blog!

The New Year is well into its stride by now, full of promise but also packed with the uncertainties we must learn to live with. Some cope better than others with these things. My hope is that we can help one another along the way, and we can be helped to see where we can turn for such help. Our lives are dotted with good people, willing to give their time and share their experience and nudge that balance in favour of hope in spite of all that tries to pull us down.The week of prayer for Christian Unity is a hardy annual in our calendar. This year my own experience has already been enhanced by my being part of a gathering of Anglican and Roman Catholic bishops in Leicester. Some might have called it a ‘talking shop’ but that wouldn’t be fair. It served to deepen our enthusiasm for and commitment to the desire of Jesus for us to be united disciples, working together for the spread of His Gospel.Good doesn’t just happen; it makes demands on us. We must leave the comfort and cosiness of what we are familiar with, our well-known ways of working and living. We must be seen to associate with each other, turning prayer into action, helping blossom become fruit. This is the will of Christ. He prayed for it, and lived for it.Early last week I had time to meet with Jill Duff, the Anglican suffragan bishop of Lancaster. At the end of next week I will attend an ecumenical concert at St.Joseph’s, Lancaster. Perhaps these don’t look like much in themselves, but I hope they will play their part in building an environment within which we can get to know each other better and overcome some of the awkwardness that still dogs our relationships. We are more than our history.Not long ago we celebrated the Feast of the Holy Family. It is worth reflecting on how we get on in our families, what binds us together, what helps and what hurts. As disciples of Jesus we are related, we have brothers and sisters with whom we can be somewhat estranged. That need not remain the way it is. Each day of the year ahead is an invitation and an opportunity to quietly set about repairing the Holy Family of the Church and the churches. Not everything needed will be achieved, but that shouldn’t stop us from moving things in a better direction, even if it is only a small step.Many people admit to struggling with prayer. One approach that may help is if we simply place ourselves in the presence of Our Lord as He prays. Use Gospel images to help you see Him and hear Him say His prayers. You may find yourself drawn into that prayer. May the blossom of His prayer become fruit in the actions of our lives. May the Holy Family of Christ thrive!With my prayers for you and your families over the week ahead,
+ Paul

Paul Swarbrick

Bishop of Lancaster