A word from St Peter: ‘Tis good, Lord, to be here
!’ Please pray with me that God will anoint my words and your hearing. Let’s pray:
Heavenly Holy and blessed God, anoint my words that I may speak in the power of the Spirit; in the name of Jesus our Lord, the One whom we serve; and to the glory of God the Father. Amen.
Friends, thank you so very much for the warmth of your welcome; for the cards, the messages and texts, for the words of encouragement and for the prayers.
I’m so very excited to be received into the Diocese of Liverpool. I kind of guess you know this already but Liverpool, as a city, is legendary. As I’ve traveled across the world, from China to the remotest parts of Africa, people have asked me where I’ve come from … and when I’ve said ‘London’, they’ve responded ‘ …. You know Liverpool
?’ I’d like to think they were being prophetic!
This side of the Pennines you’re renowned for your warmth, generosity and very funny sense of humour. Already, I’m bezzy mates
with Gary at the recycling centre … and Ken the postie! This diocese is proving a very easy place to make my home – and already, I love it here!
That’s not to say there isn’t immense work to do! But from the colleagues I’ve met from the Diocesan Oversight Team, the office staff and members of churches that I’ve visited, it does give me enormous reassurances that we’re in this together.
I am so looking forward to working with Bishop Paul, and with all lay and ordained people of this Diocese. Together, we form the body of Christ in this place and when we live out our shared faith and common purpose we shall do mighty deeds.
I love it that in this diocese, we dare to ask God for a bigger church, to make a bigger difference - more people knowing Jesus and more justice.
do this if each of us commits this to prayer and by inviting 1 new person to church and by doing 10 new things that will bless lives and communities.
This may all sound a bit daunting … and so I want to share with you a story of somebody I worked with on a Cursillo Retreat in London. The man’s name was John, and he’d been assigned the talk on ‘STUDY’.
Now this was the first time he’d ever spoken in public and here’s the thing … John had left school at 15 without any qualifications. Studying for him was really difficult. He’d only ever wanted to be a mechanic – and this is what he did. He spent most of every day underneath a car. Of all the talks John might have been given, it was mystifying that he’d been given the talk on STUDY! That was until he started to tell us his story!
John told us that he loved the Bible but reading wasn’t easy, so he’d listen to CD recordings.
To help him learn about God he liked to listen to Premier Radio and he especially loved Joyce Meyer. So he asked his fellow mechanics if they’d mind him shifting the radio channel to Joyce Meyer for her daily 2pm slot. Of course he got ribbed mercilessly for it, but it got that they’d tune in for him when his hands were full … and then it got that they’d have conversations about what they were hearing. And as time went on, it got that they couldn’t be bothered to switch back to Capital, so they remained tuned in to Premier! Within several months, his mates asked him, ‘What do we have to do to be baptized
?’ Isn’t that a great question! John took them to his church, where they were all baptized and became active members of the church. John didn’t have one ‘ology’ to his name – he had no theological training, yet by loving Jesus and wanting to know more, he discipled a community of mechanics and transformed the whole work ethic of the garage – and its reputation spread across that part of West London.
We can paralyse ourselves by the thought of stepping up and stepping out in faith. None of us would do anything if we let the fear become the overarching emotion. As I now step up and step out to become the Bishop of Warrington, a friend reminded me, ‘God doesn’t call the equipped; he equips the called!’
God never gives us more than we can contend with!
We, each of us have a unique part within the body of Christ … there’s a task that has only our name on it! Pointing to the Body of Christ, my former Bishop (a Scouser don’t you know!) would often ask, ‘who wants to be the hard skin on the ball of the foot, or the fluff in the naval
? (I still haven’t worked that one out?!!!).
Not all are called to high profile positions, and many have the hidden and hard, yet really vital tasks, without which, the whole couldn’t operate. The thing is, God calls each of us
. And so how do we create the space to hear Him? And he calls us into His
service. He doesn’t call the equipped …. He equips those he calls.
Part of my role as your suffragan bishop, is to encourage you in the listening and hearing, and to enable you to do the things God is calling you to do.
Friends, our world can feel very confusing and disorienting. There are many mixed messages and distractions and people are largely driven by fear. Life for so many of us, is very messy! People need to know that there is
a God. A God who hasn’t come to condemn us, but to meet us in all our messed-up-ness; who will enable us to be grasped by hope; a God who wipes the slate clean, who helps us start again and who gives us purpose and meaning.
There are so many lonely people in this world. It’s such a big issue in this country that we’ve now appointed a Minister for Loneliness
. When the church is effectively being
church, it makes space for all to find their place as a beloved child of God. And here’s the amazing thing – when you find that place, you discover that you’re part of a family that crosses generations, gender, language and culture. So many lonely people would love an invitation from us. And this is what we’re good at!
As Christmas fast approaches – if you’re from a church which is opening your doors, providing a Christmas dinner for people who would otherwise be alone, please do be in touch with my office – we especially want to hear how we can support you in this.
As a new bishop, I’ve spent some time reflecting upon what it means to stand in the inherited tradition of the apostles.
What really marked out the apostles, was their model of holiness. ‘Holiness
’ is a word that sits very uncomfortably with us today, and it’s frequently misunderstood. Jesus demonstrates through his own actions that holiness isn’t about being set apart, so that we don’t become defiled by others! Perish the thought! Neither is it a passive, pious or sanctimonius word. It’s a strong, active
word that calls us to a way of life. There’s an audacity about it. It dares to take us places and dream dreams we never imagined. Holiness may be contentious; it will argue and wrestle in pursuit of truth and of the Jesus way! Holiness will bring us to our knees in prayer; it will compel us to go and seek out the lost. It calls us to see
through the limitations of our own myopic lens to the lonely and isolated, the marginalised, the degraded and despairing, the despised, the people whose dignity has been stolen, whose voice has been silenced and who’ve been left on the rubbish heap of life.
Friends, the apostles devoted their lives to the interior life
, of reading
to the scriptures and to the learning – they never ceased learning about God and people. And they externalised their faith … they would go
people about Jesus, they’d make disciples, baptize, break bread and grow churches … and their lives were shaped by sacrificial giving and service. They were taught by the One whom they called Teacher, to wash the feet … that’s what it means to be a servant in the household of God … and never to esteem themselves greater than others. To be blessed with the power of God, the apostles first had to learn humility.
Today is the Feast of Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, a 15th
Century saint who walked in the footsteps of the apostles. Hugh was blessed with wisdom and a heart’s desire for Christ. He commended the discipline of a holy life, one of prayer and fasting … of Jesus and justice
In Liverpool we have a Rule of Life
which each of us are encouraged to take up as we build our life of discipleship. Before you all, I commit
to this rule of life, and as I promise to encourage you in the discipline of a holy life; I ask you to encourage me in these disciplines ….
Together, in the name of Christ, let’s grow a bigger church with more people knowing Jesus; and more justice.
Together, let’s discover and commit to what God is asking of us so that we achieve this. Let’s make our churches places where all can find a home, a place to belong; where all will be touched by Heaven’s breath; and where dreams will be realised beyond our wildest imaginings …. Dreams of a fair world, where all are valued.
In the name of Him who loves us beyond our dreams, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, who tells us, ‘I have come to give life and life in abundance’, to whom be all glory, now and forever.
Download and print