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The Prayer for the Turning of the Year offered by Peter Holmes at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church, Watch Night, Dec. 31, 2016 as one year gave way to the next.  

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."  (Minnie Haskins)

Gracious and Eternal God, here we are at the gate of yet another year and we are here to say, 'thank you,' because your hand was better than light and safer than any way we knew.  And oh it was dark at times - there were calamities we did not see coming - and sometimes we let go of your hand, so sure we could do it on our own, but that is why we are here. Never did you leave us or forsake us and so now at the gate of a new year we pause to take your hand again.   

Oh God, thank you for staying with us through yet another year and for keeping us all on course as surely as you kept the earth in orbit round the sun.  Thank you for all the things that brought warmth to our hearts this year: evenings with loved ones warmed round a fire, sharing laughter with children, hearing a familiar melody for the first time all over again, and always for the breaking of bread.  Thank you for those 'I Do,' moments and the endearing and enduring convictions of the love that ages us like wine rendering our souls better with each passing year.  Thank you too for the first cries of newborns piercing the night announcing the end of labour's great pains and proclaiming that by your grace, life with all its blessings is here and now.  Pierce this night with the song of a child - the child who leads us in love to your eternal now.   

Thank you too for those we had to leave behind this year and for the faith that we will be together again.  Thank you too for new friends we met along the way.  And thank you day by day for hearing our prayers and answering them even when it was not the answer or the outcome we had hoped for.  Eternal God, you know best, for long ago and forever, you were already here just as you are there at the next gate waiting and watching, until that new day when the watch will end and the wait will be no more.  

O God there are some who find this gate hard.  Some bear fresh wounds, others have old bruises that seem slow to heal, and still others just can't let go of what was.  Bless them Lord that they might know how dear and wonderful they are now.  For those too fearful to hear even this we pray.  Reach out and take their hands as only you can. And for those whose homelands have been at war so long few know of anything but fear and strife we pray.  Oh God may peace break forth upon this world in 2017 like a summer's morn early and bright with an endless blessing of hopeful possibility in such a way that only the dark night and the cold fright are left behind. 

We thank you for the peace and prosperity of Canada as we enter this 150th year of confederation and we pray for all who lead and serve this nation and particularly for those who serve overseas to defend our freedoms. We pray that as neighbourhoods change and norms evolve we would warm all the more to the strangers at our door and the foreign ways of our new neighbours.  May this new year be marked by kindness and grace in all our communities and relationships.  

We pray too of your church here and all around the world that it might be a beacon of hope and grace in this world that one and all would know and embrace the good news that you so love this world that you gave us your Son, Jesus Christ, into whose scarred and sacred hands we place our trust for this year and this life and the life to come.  This we pray in the name of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen. 

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."  (Minnie Haskins)


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Rev. Dr. Peter Holmes

Peter Holmes, BA, MDiv, DMin is the Minister of the Congregation at Yorkminster Park Baptist Church

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