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Pastoral Letter - 2nd January, 2022

My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The Peace of the Lord be always with you!

Standing at the portal of the opening year.

Words of comfort meet us hushing every fear,

Spoken through the silence by our Father’s voice,

Tender, strong, and faithful, making us rejoice.

This hymn composed by Frances Ridley Havergal, a prolific hymn-writer, is one of two hymns she composed that is found in the section, “Opening and Closing of the Year” in the Methodist Hymn Book. The other is “Another Year is Dawning” (MHB 954). Frail health plagued Frances all her life, and she eventually died at the age of forty-three years.

One could understand then, how the composer fearfully ‘stood at the portal of every opening year’ but found comfort in the words of her ‘Father’s tender, strong, and faithful voice’ (v.1). Every year, she found reassurance that the Lord was with her, strengthening and upholding her. Hence, there was no need to be afraid (v.2). Every year that she lived was one of “rich supplies”, for the “poor and the needy”’ it was “living streams”, boundless grace for the “sad and sinful” and “perfect strength” for the “faint and feeble” (v.3). The God she served was a God who promised to never leave nor forsake. This God would never break God’s covenant, enabling her to stand on God’s promises, confident that God was “all-sufficient” for the year ahead (v.4).

Experience has shown us that every year has its challenges which creates its own fears and anxieties. The year 2022 will be no different. So, we note with interest that the hymn was never about Frances but about others, hence, she writes in the plural inviting us to sing with her. The hymn is one of trust in the God in Christ who is all-sufficient in all circumstances of life. With confidence we sing,

Onward then, and fear not, children of the day!

For his word shall never, never pass away!

My colleagues, Stacia, Tyrone, Andrine, Barbara, Carmelita, Veronica, and James and our families join me in praying for you God’s continued sufficiency for 2022.

Have a blessed week!

Your pastor and friend,

Mark S. Christmas

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