Portal of the Opening Year

Pastoral Reflections

As we come to the threshold of a new year, it is time that often prompts our minds to sort through a myriad of thoughts, memories, hopes and wishes, perhaps regrets and fears as well. For some, the experiences of the old year have a way of setting the tone for our disposition toward the new year. If it was a good year that ended well, we are more apt to hope with joy for another good one. If it was difficult and disappointing, our hopes can be nuanced by suspicion and fear.
 
Frances Ridley Havergal lived in the 1800’s, an English poet and hymn writer. One of her lesser known hymns, but one which I have always appreciated, was published at the break of the new year in 1874. It is entitled, Standing at the Portal. [She is probably more remembered for her famous hymn, Take My Life and Let It Be.]
 
Standing at the Portal is one that allows our hopes to be shaped by a knowledge of God’s presence in the year ahead. Below are the first two verses with the refrain. If you’re familiar with the promise of Isaiah 41:10, then you will notice that the second verse was lifted from there. As we stand at the portal of 2020, may our eyes be lifted from life as mere time on a calendar to a bold faith that steps into the year based on God’s love and presence with us.
 
          Standing at the portal of the opening year,
          Words of comfort meet us, Hushing every fear;
          Spoken thru the silence by our Savior’s voice,
          Tender, strong and faithful, making us rejoice.
 
               Onward, then, and fear not, children of the day;
               For His Word shall never, never pass away.
 
          I, the Lord, am with thee, be thou not afraid;
          I will help and strengthen, be thou not dismayed.
          Yea, I will uphold thee with My own right hand;
          Thou art called and chosen in My sight to stand.
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Donald Nwankwo
The Light of Christ Anglican Church
4000 W. Yale Ave.
Denver, CO 80219