And so a new year starts again. I think I am seeing it as just another year. Nothing more and nothing less. It will have its delights and joys and its horror stories and sadness’s. These last few years have turned out to be far less predictable than we have been accustomed, so we tread warily into 2023. None of us saw Covid coming, or a war in Ukraine which would impact not only the people of that country but millions and millions of people around the world. We have seen political instability in our government, inflation, and many of us are not yet sure of how much this winter will be costing us with our fuel and energy use. And how will things conclude with so many people on strike?
So welcome to 2023 a year of unknowns and of great possibilities. I hope and pray that the unwelcome unknowns will not deflect us from all the good things we may discover. Sometimes the way we view a half-filled glass (the negative sees a glass half empty – the positive see a glass half full) leads to our interpretation of how we view life. Will we just notice the bad things or will we celebrate the good?
My faith as a Christian rests firmly on a foundation of Jesus who lived in this beautiful world with all of its hurts and pains. I see him spending time with the hurting, the lost and the marginalised. We may ask, ‘how do we know God is love’ – and we answer, ‘by seeing Jesus in action’. But is it more than just his earthly life which inspires me and encourages me. It is also about how he suffered, died and rose again. Christmas and Easter. The disciples saw a glass practically empty when Jesus was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane, and whatever was left in the proverbial glass was finally emptied when they saw him die on a cross. These disciples knew defeat, hopelessness, fear and abandonment. And yet, at the conclusion of the third day after his death, Easter Day, most found or soon found, he was alive. Empty glasses full.
In John’s Gospel we are introduced early on to a wedding at Cana. This was the glass empty wedding where the wine had run out leaving the guests muttering and tutting. Jesus happened to be there. There was also much dull water for washing. On the third day (a nod to his readers), John tells us, the water became wine. Empty glasses full. My faith and my experience teach me about the transformation Jesus brings so I pray for it and look for it.
The poem below was written in 1908 by Minnie Louise Haskins, a teacher at the London School of Economics. It was picked up by King George VI in his 1939 Christmas broadcast, the year the Second World War began. Metaphorical glasses were emptying.
THE GATE OF THE YEAR
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.
So here’s to 2023 with all that it brings. In faith I will raise a full glass to it and welcome it even on the third day of January! Happy New Year
The Revd Canon Paul Cubitt, Team Rector – firstname.lastname@example.org