The Bishop of Jarrow, the Rt Revd Mark Bryant, has praised people working in the North East to tackle social ills, in his Easter message.
Bishop Mark praises those who refuse to accept that there is nothing they can do to improve the world in which they live, including those working with the homeless, counsellors helping people to cope with debt, vicars working in difficult areas and teachers working with challenging children.
Such examples, he says, offer hope for the future and show that people who refuse to accept the status quo can make a difference.
The Bishop’s Easter Message in full:
Is that your final answer? That was one of Chris Tarrant’s best remembered catchphrases on Who Wants to be a Millionaire?
Reading the papers, talking to people, I just hope that a lot of what is going on around me is not the Final Answer.
As I do the job I do, I hear of people who have got themselves into such a muddle with debt or relationship problems that they do not know which way to turn. I hear of a rising tide of homelessness and rough-sleeping, which is getting worse in the North East, more than anywhere else in the country.
I hear of people who have just managed to get jobs, suddenly finding that their future is uncertain after all, because somebody else has taken over the organisation they work for. And I just hope that that is not the final answer.
And then I hear stories that help me to feel that it is not the final answer and there is some hope after all.
I learned recently that the bulk of hosts for Nightstop – the organisation which gets homeless young people into people’s homes for the night – are older single women on their own. These are women who have refused to believe all that people say about young people, and have overcome any fear they may have had.
I hear that somebody who has had to use a local Food-bank gets to meet a member of the Royal Family, which I hope takes away any sense of shame she may have had.
I meet teachers who refuse to believe that the children they teach should be written off. I meet talented young people who have decided to become Vicars and live and work in some of the most challenging communities in our region.
I meet local Counsellors who despite immense budget problems show an unswerving commitment to supporting the most vulnerable in their communities. That gives me hope. That persuades me that so much of what I see around me does not have to be the final answer.
Hope breeds hope. The more hopeful we can be, the more hope there is for all of us.
I have to admit to being a fan of some of the Specsavers adverts, where people get into a terrible muddle because they cannot see properly; like the man who strips off, thinks he is going into a sauna and it then appears he is sitting in a busy restaurant kitchen!
Hope comes when we see what might be possible, and when we see that what is going on around us does not have to be the Final Answer
Easter begins on Good Friday with Jesus dead on the cross, It looks as if all he has tried to do has come to nothing. Then early on Easter Day I shall be telling the story about how that was not God’s Final Answer and Jesus came back from the dead and somehow we can, and must be hopeful, because despair need never be the Final Answer.
An interview which was recorded with Premier Christian media – with thanks for their permission to use.