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 New Year’s Day means different things to different people but I think most folk would agree that it is the promise of a new beginning and a fresh start that are most attractive to all of us. Why else would we make New Year resolutions, when our experience is that we are probably going to break them!

There is an old hymn by Frances Ridley Havergal called “Standing at the portal” (Hymn #811 in our Book of Praise). It certainly expresses for Christians the possibilities and promises of beginning a new year. Perhaps you know it?

Standing at the portal of the opening year, words of comfort meet us hushing every fear; spoken through the silence by God’s loving voice, tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice.

Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day; for God’s Word shall never, never pass away.

“I, your God, am with you, do not be afraid, I will help and strengthen; do not be dismayed, for I will uphold you with my own right hand; You are called and chosen in my sight to stand.”

God will not forsake us and will never fail; God’s eternal covenant ever will prevail. Resting on this promise, what have we to fear? God is all sufficient for the coming year.  

(Words: Public domain).  

New Year is a time to remember that the past is gone and isn’t coming back, that the future still lies ahead of us, but right now, in this moment, all we have is the present, to do with as we will. My friend and colleague Katherine Burgess wrote this “New Year Prayer” in a book we coauthored in 2019 called “A Journal of Contemplative Prayer”. I share it here with her permission. It always speaks to me at this time of year.

Lord, I thank you for the year now ending. For all of the good things that happened to me and to the world. I thank you for babies who were born, and families who celebrated.  

I thank you for healing from all kinds of diseases both physical and mental.  

I thank you for love, and friendship, for all those people who care for me.  

Lord, I know that the year was not an unmitigated success, so I also thank you that tomorrow we have the chance to start over with a clean slate, with our hearts filled with hope, that the new year will bring who knows what?  

But whatever it brings, whatever joys, whatever challenges, whatever sorrows, you will be with me. With me to share, and to help, so that, as the coming year unfolds I will be able to handle it. I will be able to keep moving forward to tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow with you. Amen.  

© Katherine Burgess. Used with permission. 

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