The Right Reverend Steven Croft, Bishop of Sheffield
A VERY happy Christmas to all Sheffield Star readers. I think 2012 has been a very good year for the city of Sheffield and a memorable year for me.
I started the year in January by preaching to Her Majesty the Queen and Prince Philip at Sandringham which was a great honour in the Queen’s diamond jubilee year. Towards the end of the year, I was the Anglican delegate at a great gathering of Roman Catholic Bishops in Rome and had the privilege of speaking to Pope Benedict and the whole gathering. In between, like everyone else, I enjoyed the Olympics and took pride in Yorkshire and Sheffield’s success there.
But as everyone knows it’s been a tough year as well as a good year with belts tightening and difficult decisions being made. I’ve served this year on the Fairness Commission for the city, thinking about how we can become a fairer city and a better place for the poorest and the most vulnerable. We publish our report in January.
My prayer for the New Year is that in the midst of the joys and sorrows of this season, more and more people in South Yorkshire will discover the great treasure at the heart of the Christian faith: Jesus Christ.
My Christmas sermon in the Cathedral is going to begin this year with the story of the lost lottery ticket: the unclaimed Euromillion jackpot. Many people go through much of life simply not knowing life’s greatest treasure: the love of God revealed in Jesus.
My prayer for the city is for a happy and peaceful Christmas and a fairer New Year.
The Right Reverend John Rawsthorne, the Catholic Bishop of Hallam
A VERY happy Christmas to all the readers of The Star.
Even as I say write that, I am conscious that there are very many people in our own country, and in South Yorkshire, who this Christmas are finding life very difficult, facing real poverty.
Underneath all the bright lights and the enticing shop windows, there is now a very significant part of our community that does not share in the good things that the rest of us enjoy.
That’s true whether it’s Christmas or not, but Christmas highlights the disaster of poverty in our midst.
Thank God for the myriad good people and organisations who on a day-to-day basis, and again not just at Christmas, do their best to alleviate that poverty.
But no matter how good and generous people are locally, serious poverty is something that only Governments can tackle.
Among the many things that Christmas is about, it is certainly about the poor. It is about God’s love for our world and everybody in our world.
The person of Jesus whose birth we celebrate is God’s love made flesh and it must be significant that in St Luke’s and St Matthew’s stories of the birth of Jesus among the first people to whom the good news is announced are people on the edge of society or foreigners, Shepherds and Magi.
Jesus was to spend his life at the side of the poor and the alienated and to be a person who would break down barriers and push back boundaries. My prayer for the New Year is that our Government will hear the cry of the poor and be moved to respond with true generosity that recognises that our world in all its richness is gifted so that everybody may have life.