The Bishop of Blackburn, the Rt Rev. Julian Henderson, has sent his first New Year’s message since taking over the post last summer.
In it, he says he is delighted to wish everyone a Happy New Year as we enter into 2014 – but adds we all probably mean something different than what we hear those words to say.
Some, he says, wish everything will go smoothly and without an upset.
Others will hope to avoid illnesses and bereavements, while others will hope to have enough money coming in to manage okay.
Some, meanwhile, will hope nothing will happen to throw us off course and make us sad.
The Bishop says: “But life is not like that.
“It never is and never will be free of difficulty and only for our convenience and comfort.
“So as I wish you a ‘Happy New Year’, I mean something more ... that we shall not hope for what we want and desire, but be eager to know and do the will of God in our lives, to fulfil His purpose for us, whatever that may be.
“For it is in putting Him and His Word at the centre of our lives, that we will find peace and joy and happiness.
“The words of the famous hymn puts it very starkly:
‘Father hear the prayer we offer; not for ease that prayer shall be,
‘But for strength that we may ever, live our lives courageously.
‘Not for ever in green pastures do we ask our way to be;
‘But the steep and rugged pathway may we tread rejoicingly.’
“And that is what I mean when I wish you a ‘Happy New Year”