It’s been said thousands of times — this has been a year like no other.

Not since wartime has there been anything that has affected everyone, everywhere, in the way that the virus and the anti-infection precautions have done.

There are some words said at the beginning of the service to ordain a new bishop that I look forward to hearing every time: 'formed into a single communion of faith and love, the Church in each place and time is united with the Church in every place and time.’

Those words make me think of brother and sister Christians in different countries — those in our partner dioceses in South Africa, for instance, or the members of the Melanesian Brotherhood who came to visit York some years ago, not long after some of their community had been martyred.

They make me think of people who passed the Christian faith on to us: among ‘Yorkshire’s own’, the missionary Paulinus and Abbess Hilda in the early Christian centuries, William Wilberforce whose faith led him to be a leader in the abolition of slavery, Mary Ward the spiritual leader and educator. They make me think too of people I have known personally, who have been an inspiration and example to me.

‘United with the Church in every place and time’ — we are united in Christ with those who faced their own uncertainties and who could not know what the future would hold. They faced them with trust and hope, because they were passionate about passing on a living faith to people who were to come after (and here we are). Today’s difficulties are real, but so are the opportunities for today and tomorrow. My prayer is that by God’s grace and the Spirit’s power we’ll take our part together in handing on a faith in Jesus to people who will live in the future we can’t know — a faith to be their rock when they face their own challenges.

+ Paul Whitby