Monks Risborough, Buckinghamshire, England
A happy and hopeful new year to us all!
The start of a new year is traditionally a time when we make good resolutions and look with anticipation to the future. We wish each other health, happiness and prosperity. This year we are hoping for better times, in particular that the vaccines, which are now beginning to be circulated, will mean that we can resume our “normal” way of life
But, we are far from out of the woods yet with this virus, and currently the situation is worse than ever. The uncertainties of the aftermath of the virus are with us; many people do not recover normal health quickly, many are hard up, many have lost jobs. Most of us feel generally under par and the uncertainties of a future outside the European Union lie before us. The world around us is a far from safe place and the number of refugees, asylum seekers and displaced people seems to get ever worse, not to mention climate change and the way we are destroying the planet on which we all reside through our own greed and selfishness. Realistically, the prospects aren’t actually that hopeful for 2021.
So, what do we mean by hope? In everyday language it seems to mean that we wish very strongly and even imagine that something will be as we want it to be. Children hope that Santa will bring them something special for Christmas. We all hope that the new year will bring us the good things of life, health, prosperity, satisfactory employment.
The Christian use of the word “hope” is different. Scripture speaks of a sure and certain hope. That which we are looking forward to is absolutely definitely going to happen. We are confident that one day we will see the reign of Jesus Christ who will rule over us according to his own character of love and fairness. We do not know when or how this will come about but our hope is certain. Therefore we can always face the future with optimism, whatever the current circumstances. The future is going to be better.
So, when I tried to think of what words to give you for this new year I found I could not do better than go back to the famous lines of LSE academic Minnie Louise Haskins, introducing a little known poem “the gate of the year”. These have come to fame through being used at royal occasions from George VI’s famous 1939 Christmas broadcast to the funeral of Elizabeth, the Queen Mother in 2002. These are words that point us to the only true and certain hope we can have:
And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year: “Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.” And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you
better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.
If we put our hands in to the hand of God we then begin to find the true hope which is like seeing the break of day after great darkness. I commend this hope to you.
God bless you all Mary Kent
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