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December 31st 2006: The gate of the year

One of my favourite texts at the end of the year is from the speech by King George VI at Christmas 1939, where he quoted a verse of poetry by Minnie Louise Haskins.

I think that the reason I find these words resonant is that the King - himself a shy and retiring man in no way warlike - chose to broadcast them in the first dark winter of the Second World War when decency and civilisation seemed under violent threat from Hitler's insanity. The outlook was bleak, the outcome deeply uncertain.

At this pivotal moment, the King called on the nation (and the wider world) to turn to God. None of us know for sure what the future holds, and as 2007 approaches we in turn could do a lot worse than to embrace the moving words and seek God with our whole heart:


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.'


Sometimes we almost seem to lose God - we can't seem to find him - but God never loses us. He holds out his hand and says "Do not be afraid. I am with you."


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