One of my favourite memories is of waking up one morning and looking out of the window to see a blanket of snow covering everything in sight, pure and unmarked by any footprint or tyre track. It had a strange luminescence in the half-light of early morning and transformed the mundane into a thing of beauty. All too soon that changed as people began to move, shovelling away to make paths to doorways, clearing snow from cars and a semblance of normal life was resumed.

I find a correlation between that early morning scene and today, the first day of a new year. It, too, is untouched by any activity as we wake up in anticipation of what 2024 might bring. But as soon as we move and go about our daily routine we make footprints in the freshness of this new day, this new year and it becomes just another day, to be sullied by news from around the world of ‘war and rumours of war’, of cruelty and inhumanity and we experience yet again that feeling of helplessness when there is so much wrong with our world and so little that we can do to redress it.

However, Jesus talks about yeast – just a small amount is used in bread-making to enable the bread to rise and increase; a tiny mustard seed can grow into a large tree; the smallest, most insignificant object can be an influence for good. No one is totally helpless, no one is unimportant, we all have a part to play. Also those of us who are pray-ers are aware of the  power of prayer.

It was King George VI who used the following words in his New Year broadcast to the nation, words which have become associated with this time ever since, words of advice, words of hope:

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 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.’

As we step forward into the unknown, may we remember that whatever it holds, if we can reach out to the One who loves us, even when we seem to be scrabbling with our fingertips, we will make it through – somehow!


[Thelma Shacklady]