Thou Hast Begun
O. P. Kretzmann

In my room I have one of those modern clocks which tell time with moving numerals… The last digit on the right changes with alarming speed… Click-click-click — the seconds no longer tick, but roll… It is salutary to sit before it and to watch the seconds fall back into the clock and the sea of the past… Or better still, to set the clock on the desk and open the Book before it… Here you have time and eternity together now… The teller of time makes a noise, slight, regular, and as you suddenly know, temporary… Pull the plug from the socket in the wall and its measure of time ends — just as quickly as time itself will end…

The Book, however, is more quiet… It speaks only to those who are not dismayed by the ticking of the years…I have turned tonight to the magnificent farewell speech of Moses… There is something moving about the closing speeches of all great men… They have seen everything that time can show them, and their words, if they are wise, are full of the sweet finality of the vesper bell… The greatest of them all, of course, was delivered to a small audience in the Upper Room in Jerusalem 1900 years ago… I shall read that again to morrow…

Meanwhile Moses has something to say as one year becomes another… Here he is at the end of a great and long life, but with his last and highest dream broken… He will not be permitted to go into the Promised Land… What does he say?… O Lord God, Thou has be gun to show Thy servant Thy greatness.… I like that Thou hast begun.… After all these years he realizes that he is still at the beginning… Thou hast begun to show — we never get beyond that in the ways of God, however far we go… This sense of beginning, of being forever on the threshold of deeper understanding and greater faith, of new doors opening to higher ways — this is the divine lesson of the changing years… Moses is not to go over Jordan, but he has the higher glory of be ginning to see the greatness of the Lord… It is this revelation year after year which brings power and glory to the changes of time… As one good friend to another, God said to Moses, “Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter.… If we know that, as another year dawns, we are ready for it… In this sense of ever beginning again The Cresset wishes you a blessed New Year…

Collect for Peace

We are going nowhere tonight — except on that universal journey marked by the ticking of the clock… Beyond the frosted window the silence of the snow is in the land, and the time of quiet has come… It is a night made for doing nothing… Surely everyone who lives in these alien years must face at times the sharp want of something like these nights of brightness and snow — the need for permanence and peace and the turning of the mind to the record and remembrance of things lasting and eternal… It is only from a high and quiet place that one can put things in their proper order… Day after day we see God striking into history in the judgment of events, but the rustle of His garments as He sweeps through the immensities of time is lost in the dull murmur of routine… Only on nights like these, when the light falls warm on the sacred page, can one forget the welter of strife and steel and the voices of those who see life only in black and red…

In such hours we turn like a prisoner released to the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth chapters of the Holy Gospel according to St. John… Everything we need is there — from the eternal answer to all the Kyrie Eleisons of the world Let not your heart be troubled to the eternal Hallelujah I have overcome the world… We need nothing beyond that… His candles fill the night, and in the smallest room the company of cherubim stand by… Something lost returns, and there is new strength for all the unbearable things that men must bear…

And so — as the clock points to the beginning of an other year, we turn to the greatest prayer ever spoken by lips not inspired — the Collect for Peace at the close of the Order of Vespers — so oft en read, so seldom heard: O God, from whom all holy desires, all good counsels, and all just works do proceed, give unto Thy servants that peace which the world cannot give; that our hearts may be set to obey Thy commandments, and also that by Thee, we, being defended from the fear of our enemies, may pass our time in rest and quietness: through the merits of Jesus Christ, our Savior. Amen.

Peace is there and nowhere else… Years ago Dorothy Kissling, who seems to know that, wrote for the second Friday in Lent:

Master, receive me in Thy way,
For I am spent who followed mine;
Seal me from every alien sway
Close to me every door but Thine.

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