Tonight we stand in liminal space and time. We finish 2021, face 2022, and experience the day. Some will sleep through the transition. Some will shoot off firecrackers. Many will watch the celebrations on TV. Traditionally it is a partying night for young adults. But somehow the day calls to us to reflect on the events of 2021. Will we join the news people that label the year, “The Year of Covid”? That carriers subtitles of the death of loved people whom we often could not visit to say farewell. It carries a subtitle of financial instability though many regrouped and found a new way forward. For students there is a subtitle of “school on zoom.” Yup, all these things are true.
Pastor Joseph Gilmore stood up to preach in the middle of the Civil War, March 26, 1862. He wanted to turn the hearts of the people away from despair and help them find hope so preached on Psalm 23,
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside quiet waters,
He refreshes my soul.
That’s as far as he got for he was captivated by the thought of how God was leading. Later at a friend’s home for lunch the discussion continued. He scribbled down a poem and went home. Three years later he was at a different church and opened a hymnal to find a hymn with his poem set to music by the famous musician William Bradbury. That night he told his wife about finding his poem set to music. She explained that she had sent the poem in to a Christian periodical that printed the poem. Bradbury liked the poem so much he set it to music. People have been blessed ever since.
At the moment it is often hard to see the hand of God guiding our lives but as we look back at the crossroads and the choices we were faced with, the opportunities that popped up, the people who blessed our lives and even some of the surprise events, often we can sense the hand of God leading us. Please enjoy this hymn as you reflect. Happy and Blessed New Year.