One of our family traditions is making sure that, whatever happens on Christmas Day, everything stops at 3.00pm to watch the Queen’s annual Christmas message. This year it meant a break between turkey and Christmas pudding so that we could tune in.
According to the BBC News website, we’re not alone, for 7.82million people did likewise, making Her Majesty top of the Christmas TV ratings, comfortably ahead of Eastenders, Doctor Who and Downton!
I love the fact that our monarch never fails to say something about her own Christian faith during her broadcast, and this year was no exception: “For me, the life of Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, whose birth we celebrate today, is an inspiration and an anchor in my life.
A role model of reconciliation and forgiveness, he stretched out his hands in love, acceptance and healing. Christ's example has taught me to seek to respect and value all people, of whatever faith or none.”
The annual Christmas address to the nation and commonwealth began way back in 1932 with the queen’s grandfather, George V, and since then it has continued almost every year. One of the most famous and inspirational Christmas messages of them all came in 1939 from George VI. That year the King found himself at a moment in history when the whole world stood on the brink of disaster. Despondency and uncertainty filled the air when he quoted these memorable words:
"I said to the man at the gate of the year,
'Give me a light that I might walk safely into the unknown.'
And he said to me, 'Go out into the darkness,
and put your hand into the hand of God.
It shall be to you safer than the light and better than the known.' "
The author of these words was Minnie Louise Haskins, and they remain truly inspiring for us today as we stand at the dawn of a new year. There is much out there that is unknown. Some reading these words may have anxieties and worries about different issues and problems they are facing. None of us knows what may lie ahead of us in the next 12 months.
But in the end, it’s better to know the One who holds the future, than to know what the future will hold. And to trust God, knowing that in loving faithfulness, he will keep all his promises to us - promises to be with us always; to never leave us or forsake us.
I want to wish all who read this – in Falkirk Free Church and beyond – a truly blessed and spiritually prosperous New Year, and a real and abiding joy in the Lord, in whose hands we are safe and secure, whatever the future may bring.