Anthony Bloom: “certainty that the Lord is in this year”
“Once again a new year is approaching. When we are young we greet the new year with open hearts and it seems to us that everything is possible in it. It stretches before us like an endless plain of virgin snow; no footprint has yet marked the whiteness. Everything is possible, everything is pure and shining. In declining years we await the new year with a kind of inner patience, we feel that it will be a repetition of the past. There may be new events in plenty but they will be familiar, earthly happenings which we know how to live with. In both cases we are mistaken. Yes, the new year lies before us like a path that no one has yet trodden, a clear, virgin plain that must flower with a wealth of human good deeds. Whatever our age a path lies ahead of us and it is up to us to make it the way of the Lord, or not. It depends on us whether for those around us and for future generations we make a track to Heaven or to Hell, either eternal Hell, or simply the cruel human hell on earth. And at the same time what lies before us is, as old age sees it, the usual and familiar, only that it has never happened to us before. Life may be as ordinary as ever, but we may be different, the same events may occur again but be quite new because we have changed.
We can enter this year creatively, but only on condition that we enter with hope, that is with the certainty that the Lord is in this year, that He is the master and will lead us to the right place, and with the faith that nothing in this year will happen without the will or acquiescence of God. If this is our attitude we shall see that nothing is chance, (whoever believes in chance does not believe in God) that there are no pointless meetings and every person is sent us by the Lord. And if we enter this year with the knowledge that everything — light and dark, good and terrifying — is a gift of God and is sent us so that through us faith, hope, love, joy and the strength of the Lord should enter the world, if we firmly believe that every person who crosses our path is sent in order that we may bring him the word or action of the Lord or receive it from him, life will be meaningful and rich. Otherwise it will remain a matter of chance, an endless string of fortuitous events. Let us enter upon the new year with this faith and hope and this burning of the spirit, let us receive each other and anyone whom God may send us as the Lord receives us on our way, and let us accept anything that befalls us as coming from the hand of God, and in all circumstances let us be Christ’s; then all will be well.
The year has passed and many are now seeing the new year in the Kingdom of God. They have run their course; we are still on earth. Let us remember those who lived among us, those whom we knew and loved, and those whom we barely noticed through inattentiveness. Let us remember them now at the throne of God; let us remember all those countless people who perished miserably this year from illness, in accidents, in war. Let us remember everyone and leave out no one, and enter into this new year with a heart open to all. And before we separate, let us sing ‘eternal memory’ to all the departed, and let us keep that eternal memory in our hearts with love and thanksgiving to God that He let us meet people whom we could love and respect and whose example could inspire us. (Choir: eternal memory) May God bless the new year: I wish you a happy new year, to live, to love God, to love people and to serve them.”
– Metropolitan Anthony Bloom, New Year’s sermon, given on December 31, 1969