Bishop’s Messages and Sermons
The Bishop of Sherwood’s new year message
A New Day Dawning
Just before Christmas my daughter, who is in year 6 at school, came home singing the Matt Redman song 10,000 reasons (Bless the Lord). She was learning it in her school choir and then performed it to the school (suitably socially distanced of course) and so I heard it repeatedly for a few weeks! It is a brilliant worship song but the line that I kept hearing her hum to herself and that struck a chord with me was: “The sun comes up, It’s a new day dawning, It’s time to sing Your song again”.
2020 was an unprecedented year. One that we will not quickly forget. It was dominated by Covid-19 and all the tragic ramifications of that. Untimely death, economic woe and perhaps hardest of all for many of us, significant restrictions on our lives. We all, in our own ways, experienced levels of loneliness and painful loss, having to face up to not being able to pursue our usual routines or engage in life as we are used to doing.
It was also a hugely challenging year for the Church. Our buildings were closed to public worship for extended periods of time, we had to accelerate our development of online worship and face the complex question of how to maintain missional engagement, especially with the vital demographics of children, young people and families. We weren’t able to ‘Bless the Lord’ in ways that many find strengthen faith, raise hope, and bring joy. Our sacramental worship was limited to partaking in one kind, and our sung worship, whether traditional or contemporary, was off limits for all but the professional musicians, restricted by face masks and lacking the opportunity to engage in building relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
And yet we are still to worship: “The sun comes up, It’s a new day dawning, It’s time to sing Your song again, Whatever may pass, And whatever lies before me, Let me be singing, When the evening comes”.
Back in September I was walking past Southwell Minster early one morning. I had recently started my new role as the Bishop of Sherwood. We were in the midst of a global pandemic, my family of three teenage children were dealing with the challenges of moving half-way across the country and I was wondering quite what I had done. Then I saw the beauty of the sun rising through the mist behind the Minster, a new day dawning, and I sensed the Spirit stir hope in my heart. Christ was very present. The One who entered darkness, his glory veiled, and yet the One whose light shines in that darkness, the risen One who the darkness cannot overcome. I found 10,000 reasons for my heart to sing: “to worship His Holy name, To sing like never before”.
As we enter this New Year let’s remember that a New Day has Dawned. Let’s celebrate all that was achieved by the Church in 2020. The people that were supported by innumerable food banks, community projects and love your neighbour initiatives. Those that came to faith in Christ through the witness and reach of online worship, services and evangelistic courses. Let’s give thanks for all the scientists, researchers, administrators, technicians, logisticians who have brought these vital vaccines into existence in record time. Let’s look forward to being able to sing our song again. To be able to come together as the Body of Christ, to open our mouths, to raise our voices: “To worship his holy name”.
“For the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb.” Revelation 21:23
Bishop of Sherwood
The Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham’s Christmas Sermon in Southwell Minster
In a sermon given at the Midnight service in Southwell Minster, Bishop Paul spoke about the shining hope held out in the events of the first Christmas. Reflecting on the intense challenges of the past year, Bishop Paul said: “Christmas 2020 will not be one we easily forget. It is not only the sudden drop in temperature that makes it feel a rather bleak midwinter. There will be a fair few who feel this Christmas has lost its shine before the day even gets started. Yet the story we participate in this holy night has all the shine needed for two thousand Christmases and more. It has been celebrated in times of national testing and personal tragedy.”
Bishop Paul went on to reflect on the story of angels appearing to the shepherds, saying “They had little idea this would become the most famous night in history. They would have a walk on part in the birth of the Saviour of the world and see with their own eyes the glory of God revealed in the face of the Christ child.”
Bishop Paul also expressed gratitude for those who over Christmas will continue to care for the sick and the dying in hospitals, care homes and the community. He said, “Their heroic service has been an inspiration these past months. May it also inspire us to greater acts of kindness and compassion in the days to come, so that our future as a nation is not defined by trade deals or hard borders but by the virtues and values that are signs of God’s Kingdom, into which all are invited to come through the love of Christ our Saviour.”
To read the full text click here
Bishop Paul’s Advent & Christmas video for 2020
In his Advent & Christmas message for 2020, the Bishop of Southwell & Nottingham, Paul Williams offers a message of hope to every person living in each community across this diocese, especially against the backdrop of this past year with all the challenges we have been living through.
We warmly invite you to watch Bishop Paul’s Christmas message below:
Bishop Paul in his sermon encourages those newly ordained as deacons to be ‘dressed ready for service and action, and to keep your lamps burning’ remembering that God calls all people to share in his mission’.
Bishop Andy reminds those being ordained to the priesthood of God’s divine gift of ministry, which should be celebrated, shared and grown in and through all those who follow Christ.
Bishop Paul’s Sermon reflecting on the Book of Ruth for the Queen’s Birthday
Bishop Paul’s Pentecost sermon
Click on the image above to listen to Bishop Paul’s address to Diocesan Synod, which was held online because of coronavirus restrictions
Click on the image above to listen to Bishop Paul’s Easter sermon which was part of the Eucharist for Easter Day. Click on the image below to join in with the full service.
Click on the image above to watch our Service for the Renewal of Commitment to Ministry.