Each year, I like to start the year with a poem that was read by King George VI as he prepared to lead Great Britain into 1940,
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.”
Towards the end of 2023, I was chatting with a teacher at one of our local schools who, when reflecting on the year, said, “It’s been so nice to have a ‘normal’ year. On the other hand, it’s hardly been normal.” What she meant was that 2023 was ‘normal’ in the sense that we didn’t have any COVID lockdowns or interruptions. However, it was a long way from normal given the global instability, economic uncertainty and environmental disasters we’ve seen.
It would be unreasonable to think that 2024 is going to be any more certain. The things I’ve listed above continue to be the case. And yet, I enter this new year hopeful because, alongside those things, I also see a community around me who are generous and engaged. I see young people who are full of potential and creativity. And I see community groups, like local churches, doing extraordinary things to invest into our community.
At the heart of all this is community. We need community. As the African proverb says, “It takes a village to raise a child.” But a village does even more than that. So it’s no surprise that community is at the very heart of God’s design for people, when he said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” (Genesis 2:18)
As we press into the new year, let me encourage you to explore the community offered in churches. My prayer for you and your family is that, whatever 2024 may bring, you may know the God who loves you and a community of grace who will celebrate when the highs come and support in the lows.
“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.”