Back in the dark days of December 1939, when our country was facing war with Germany, the young Princess Elizabeth, aged just 13, gave her father, the King, a copy of a poem. He was so moved by it that he quoted it in his Christmas Broadcast to the Empire. Known now as The Gate of Year, it originally had the title God knows, and has inspired countless people in the years since then.
The poem challenges the reader to ‘go out into the darkness and put your hand into the hand of God’ which ‘shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way’.
As 1939 rolled into 1940, people were fearful of what the new year would bring. Memories were still strong of the carnage of ‘the Great War’ little more than twenty years earlier. The Spanish Civil War had given a taste of what a modern conflict could be like, and many people expected devastation if Hitler were to launch a ‘Blitzkrieg’ against us. Britain really was going ‘out into the darkness’. When better to put your hand into the hand of God?
As 2016 rolls into 2017, many people are again fearful of what the new year will bring. Whatever we feel about Brexit and Donald Trump, some very ugly emotions have come to the surface in our society in the past year and in many ways we have become polarised and divided as a nation. Too often, we have labelled and derided each other rather that seeing each other as fellow human beings, loved by God, whatever our differences.
No doubt there will be bad days in 2017, and times when it feels that evil has the upper hand but the message of the poem is that there is always hope. Whatever the challenges of the new year, whatever your fears, I would invite you to put your hand into the hand of God and to live your life in the light of his love for all people – including you and yours.