Hope Based on Experience | Clongowes Wood College

Posted: 8th January 2019

Today the Headmaster, Mr Lumb led Morning Prayer with this reflection on the nature of the turning of the year and the genuine hope that the New Year can bring…

Happy New Year to you all! As the New Year of 2019 dawned, the news broke that a Chinese spacecraft had become the first to land on the far side of the moon in an historic moment for space exploration. The successful touchdown has been hailed as a major technical feat and is seen as an important step towards China’s wider ambitions in space. Whilst I was reading about this lunar landing, my thoughts wandered to the line “I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon” immortalised 45 years ago at the end of Pink Floyd’s track Brain Damage. It was the line that gave their most famous album, The Dark Side of the Moon, its title and it remains one of the most enduring phrases in popular culture.

It’s not hard to see why artists have such a fascination with the moon’s far side. It speaks of the unknowable, the distant and the elusive, and is especially ripe for metaphor. For Pink Floyd, it was used to symbolise the darker forces of human nature on an album that delved into unusual territories: mental illness, mortality and the scars of the Second World War. As the songwriter Roger Waters explained: “The line ‘I’ll see you on the dark side of the moon’ is me speaking to the listener saying, ‘I know you have these bad feelings because I do too, and one of the ways I can make direct contact with you is to share with you the fact that I feel bad sometimes.’”

Does the passing from the Old Year of 2018 to the New Year of 2019 make things feel any different to you? I have often been disappointed with New Year. There is such a build up to it: reviews of the Old Year and moments of 2018 remembered, which are typically of a tragic or depressing nature. And then predictions of what 2019 will bring: will there be peace here or there? will this country grow or disintegrate? and, of course, at the moment what of the looming Brexit chaos in the UK? Then New Year’s Day dawns and not much has really changed.

The loving gaze and blessing of our God

However, as Christians we know that as we move forward into 2019 we do so with the loving gaze and blessing of our God. I am reminded this morning of the words of the beautiful Christian blessing:

May the Lord bless you and keep you.

May the Lord make his face to shine upon you, and be gracious to you.

May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace.

If we want to look back, reminiscing and recalling the events of 2018, that is fine. If, however, as I have already hinted, we might find ourselves getting a little depressed in the process, let’s call to mind the great things that God does for each of us, making us spiritually strong, giving us peace and filling us with a joy which no uncertainty of the future can destroy.

Genuine hope

Looking towards the future, especially at New Year, there is the custom of making resolutions. I am not too sure where this comes from. Perhaps it is something to do with trying to make the future better than the present and the past? Perhaps it is to bring some discipline into our lives, which might seem to have got a little out of control over the festive period? Deep down inside the human spirit, however, there is a sense of hope, which burns within us. It is genuine hope based on personal experience of God’s continual care for us: God has walked at my side through thick and thin, he has been with me in all the ups and downs and I trust that he will continue to do the same in the future.

So, once again, I wish you a Happy New Year. For each of us, may it be a year with God at the centre. If it is, then I have no doubt that only good will ultimately flow from it. It will bring us nothing but gladness and joy, equality and justice, and peace and hope.

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