Rev. David Bartholomew (our Interim Moderator)

Dear Friends,

It was 1939 that firmly established the Royal Christmas Broadcast as a British tradition. In those days it was given on Christmas Eve, and the king addressed the nation in a BBC radio broadcast. In the uncertain last days of 1939 the king spoke words of peace to calm his people. He reminded them of the only true King, the One who can provide true peace and real rest in such troubled times. As King George concluded his message of encouragement, he read the preamble of a poem that had been brought to his attention by his young daughter, Princess Elizabeth, who was only thirteen years old in 1939. The poem that she brought to her father’s attention was written by British poet Minnie Louise Haskins (1875-1957). Published in 1908 and titled God Knows, it was part of a collection of poems in a book entitled The Desert. Years later, this poem gained popularity with a new title, The Gate of the Year, from the poem’s first line.

Dressed in the uniform of the Admiral of the Fleet, sitting in front of two microphones on a table at Sandringham, King George VI spoke live to offer a message of reassurance to his people. It was to be a landmark speech and was to have an important effect on the listening public as they were plunged into the uncertainty of war:

“A new year is at hand. We cannot tell what it will bring. If it brings peace, how thankful we shall all be. If it brings us continued struggle we shall remain undaunted.” He went on to quote from Minnie Haskins’ poem :

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:
“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown.”
And he replied:
“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God.
That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way.”
So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night. And He led me towards the hills and the breaking of day in the lone East.

After the King’s death, the Queen Mother had the words engraved upon brass plaques and attached to the gates of the King George VI Memorial Chapel at Windsor. Later the Queen had the words read at her mother’s funeral.

How do you ‘put your hand into the Hand of God’ and let him lead you? By believing better and learning to put your trust in Him.

~ Commit this year to knowing Jesus better through reading and studying His Word. When you know Him better, you will love Him more and you will find peace in Him.

~ Commit this year to entering into deeper communion with Jesus through prayer. When you commune with Him more, you will find rest in Him.

~ Commit this year to remembering all that Jesus has done for you and all that He has given you. When you remember Jesus, your mind will be transformed and God will faithfully conform you more and more to the image of His Son.

We stand at the dawn of a new decade and Kirkcudbright Church prepares to welcome a new minister. May it be a time to move forward with fresh vision and commitment. These are days when we need to renew our faith in God and seek his blessing upon our church and upon our land. The days ahead may seem uncertain, but through God a safe way can be found..

With all good wishes.

David Bartholomew
Interim Moderator