We are living in troubled times and there is certainly a sombre national mood as, at the time of writing, we wake to yet another atrocity in London.
What has been able to lift your spirits amongst the darkness? For me, it has been recent contact with young people and their leaders. This has taken place on a Confirmation camp, a Boys’ and Girls’ Brigade Display evening and the Bishop’s Bible Challenge.
Confirmation candidates often write to me before a service explaining why they wish to be confirmed. One youngster wrote recently, “Dear Bishop, I am requiring that I am confirmed because due to me enjoying the way of Christ the Lord I wish that I can step up another level from just a Christian.”
On the recent Confirmation Camp weekend, there was a mixture of teaching and worship alongside outdoor adventure plus a bonfire and various challenges. On the Saturday it rained practically all day but yet it did not dampen the spirits of the young people. They were so absorbed with their gorge walking or coming down the zip wire that the weather was incidental. Only when they ran out of dry clothes did they seem to wake up to the conditions around them.
If you think there is little place for uniformed organisations in our day then I wish you had been with me at a recent Brigade Display evening. It was heartwarming to see them engaged in an organisation whose object is the advancing of Christ’s Kingdom among boys and girls. I came away thanking God for all I had witnessed including a group of young leaders who in some cases had been a part of the Brigade for seven, eight and nine years.
A new report out has found one in six young people surveyed identified themselves as practising Christians. This suggests levels of active faith among young people is higher than indicated by previous research and statistics of church attendance.
There is a warmth and openness to faith among teenagers which I have seen in my most recent experience across the county – and any faith whose heart is love for God and others, brings light and hope to us all.