We rejoice, our Father, that you have taught us that there remains a rest for the people of God…
…that this life is not all of our experience; that beyond the bounds of time swells the infinite, the eternal life. You are gathering there multitudes which no man can number. From every age you have garnered there; the spirits of the just made perfect dwell with you, for you have set the streams of time. For us there is this hope and this joyful anticipation. We rejoice that the burdens which we bear, and the sorrows, the troubles, and the vexations of life which we experience day by day, are things to be forgotten; that they are but the dust of the way. Though at the time they fill the soul, and absorb the thought, yet we rejoice that they are trifles, and are not worthy to be mentioned in comparison with the exceeding and eternal weight of glory which is reserved for those who love and fear you.
And we beseech of you that we may be able to live this life in the body with a constant faith of the great life of the spirit; that we may never be discouraged nor beaten down; that we may know that we are the King’s sons and daughters. Though exiled, and in disguise, and in poverty, and even cast into shame, may we remember our birthright, the Treasure that awaits us, the crown, the throne, the scepter, the glory of immortal and perpetual youth, where you are. When the former things shall have passed away, when sorrow and dying shall have fled, when you shalt have wiped the tear from every eye, and when you do comfort us even as a father comforts his child, then, in that blessed land where you dwell, what will be the memory of the troubles which we have had upon earth!
Grant that now we may be made brave by the anticipation of these things through faith. May we carry our trouble, our load, whatever it may be, patiently, strengthened by you, and rejoicing in you. May we seek every day more and more thy favor. May our life be hid in thine. May our purposes be, not those which roll along the dusty road of time, but those which take hold on immortality and glory.
As the years go by, and as the signs and tokens of departure come to us, may we be more earnest for the things that do not perish, and less and less held by the things that do.
Help us in all things to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord. Though others reel to and fro, may we stand in thy strength. Though others are confused and perplexed, may we abide in peace beneath the shadow of thy wings. Though others are bereaved and in great sorrows, may we hear you saying to us, No affliction is for the present joyous but grievous, yet afterward it shall work the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them that are exercised thereby.
Grant unto us, in these declining hours of the year, such suitable meditations as shall make us better fitted for the year that is advancing to us. May we seek more earnestly the things that are high, and worthy of us, and less and less the things that perish in the using. And may thy word give us instruction. May it be the man of our counsel and our guide. We pray that its wisdom and experience may become our wisdom and experience, and that in it we may abide as in a fortress.
Grant, 0 Lord, thy blessing upon all those whose pilgrimage is beginning, who are essaying their first steps in the higher life. Deliver them from every enemy that threatens them from without; from the enemies that are within their own hearts; from the evils by which they are surrounded; from specious reasonings of every kind; from deceitful temptations; from all guile that would spoil their simplicity. Deliver them from everything that tends to destroy the nobility of Christian adulthood. May they prove all things, and hold fast the things that are good, living better than we have lived before them, with more aspiration and with more attainments.
May thy blessing rest upon the year that is past.
Grant that the seed which has been sown by thy servants in this church may not perish. Though the winter storms beat upon it may it come forth in the spring and bear fruit a hundredfold. We pray that the fruits which have been gathered may be but first-fruits; and may we see from month to month throughout the coming year the blessing of the Lord resting upon the labors of days gone by.
Will you bless all those who are teachers; all those who are ministers of mercy and consolation to the afflicted; all those everywhere who are building up waste places. Revive thy work in thy churches. Grant, we pray you, that with the expiring year faults may expire, on the right hand and on the left; and in the coming year may there be a new record of righteousness. More and more may the power of God be manifest in the affairs of men. May thy kingdom come, and may thy will be done, upon earth as it is done in heaven. We ask it in the name of Jesus, our master, to whom, with the Father and the Spirit, shall be everlasting praises.
Henry Ward Beecher