We're living through a period which seems more challenging than anything we have faced in decades. On every front there is widespread, rapid and profound change which many are struggling to comprehend. Western democracy is under threat and we seem to lack real leaders who can do anything to solve the complex problems we face.
Against such a backdrop it's a constant struggle to remain optimistic about the future. If difficult personal issues and tragedies are also plaguing us, then we may feel broken and despairing.
Yet, the antidote to despair is hope. As long as there is life, there is hope - however difficult the circumstances. We may not be able to do much to change things, but we can choose to be hopeful, and in choosing hope we enable miracles to happen and find things change for the better.
As 2019 begins, let's try and remember that the world has always had its challenges. Back in 1850 the British poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, wrote 'Ring Out Wild Bells'. His words ring as true today as they did back then. So let the bells of hope ring out 'the darkness', and ring in 'the love of truth and right', 'the common love of good', and 'the larger heart, the kindlier hand'.
Ring Out Wild Bells: Alfred, Lord Tennyson 1850
Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light;
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind.
Ring out a slowly dying cause,
And ancient forms of party strife;
Ring in the nobler modes of life,
With sweeter manners, purer laws.
Ring out the want, the care the sin,
The faithless coldness of the times;
Ring out, ring out my mournful rhymes,
But ring the fuller minstrel in.
Ring out false pride in place and blood,
The civic slander and the spite;
Ring in the love of truth and right,
Ring in the common love of good.
Ring out old shapes of foul disease,
Ring out the narrowing lust of gold;
Ring out the thousand wars of old,
Ring in the thousand years of peace.
Ring in the valiant man and free,
The larger heart, the kindlier hand;
Ring out the darkness of the land,
Ring in the Christ that is to be.