A Christmas message from Rt Rev. Dr Jill Duff, Bishop of Lancaster
The video version of my Christmas message this year is filmed at the outdoor ice rink in Lancaster.
For full effect of course it was tempting to film it while skating. But I’m not a professional, and my usual experience of ice skating is one of being – out of control!
And maybe that’s been your experience at some point in this last year; pressures on work and relationships, illness, tiredness and grief – all these can make life seem out of control.
Despite the impression from our Christmas cards (the ‘all was calm’ at the first nativity) a lot of the Christmas story is about being out of control.
Mary – a young teenager, says yes to the power of the Most High overshadowing her.
Joseph – a man of faith, makes up his mind to divorce her quietly – until he hears from God in a dream that he should take Mary to be his wife, despite the scandal this will cause him.
Then there’s the last-minute journey to Bethlehem – 60 miles on a donkey, 8 months pregnant, to be rejected by Joseph’s family and friends. Giving birth in a stable. That sounds
rather out of control if you ask me.
In the video version of my message, you can see the above words illustrated with pictures painted by one of our retired priests – Stephen Hunt from Shireshead. They are most
beautiful images of light in the darkness, when darkness threatens to overwhelm.
I am so grateful for all our retired clergy and lay people in our Diocesan family for all they do and are – seen and unseen.
Meanwhile, I am asking that across Lancashire, God would raise up Abrahams and Sarahs – giants of faith – who will bring to birth spiritual children and grandchildren – more than they
can count. It sounds impossible… but as Mary heard from the angel: “Even Elizabeth, your relative is going to have a child in her old age. For nothing is impossible with God.”
We have a course in the Diocese running in Blackpool and Burnley. It’s called M:Power, and provides training for urban lay leaders. I taught there last week.
There was the song that they chose to play in the worship – it got hold of my heart and I found myself in tears. The song was Amy Grant - Breath Of Heaven – which is available on
So, this Christmas, whatever challenges you face, may you know the blessing of the Father; for Him nothing is impossible, His promises have no expiry date.
May you know the blessing of Jesus, whose light shines in the darkness and the darkness has never overcome it.
And may you know the blessing of the dear Holy Spirit, Breath of God overshadowing you, holding you together when everything is out of control, Amen