Old Meeting House Congregational Church (1643)

The Best Hidden Church in Norwich

The Road Ahead


This year we are hoping to have a Watch Night service on New Year’s Eve and I have started to think about what I should say at the start of 2019. I often think that our human life is rather like travelling on a road. You can stand on a hill, and look down and across the valley, and another prodigious hill lifts itself upon the other side. The day is hot, and you are tired; and it seems that you cannot climb that long hill. But you had better walk down the hill you are one, and not trouble yourself about the other one. You find the valley pleasant and inspiring. When you get across it, you only meet a slight ascent, and begin to wonder where the steep hill is which you saw. You walk along briskly, and when you reach the highest point, you find that there has not been an inch of the hill over which you have just walked. You see that it was illusory. The slight ascent looked almost like a perpendicular steep; but when you come to pass over it, step by step, you find it to be a good traveling road.

I recently read some words by the American Congregational minister, Henry Ward Beecher (1813 – 1887). As I read them I thought to myself that what he had written then still applies to us in 2018 even is some of the words have changed. Here is what he said, and I wonder if you can agree with my observation? “So, it is with your troubles. Just in that way your anticipation of mischief hand before you; and when you come to where they are, you find them to be all smooth turnpikes. Men ought to be ashamed, after they have done that two or three times, not to take the hint, and profit by it; yet they will not. They will suffer from anticipated troubles just as much as though they had no such experience. They have not wit enough to make use of the lesson which their life is continually teaching them; namely, that a large majority of the troubles which they worry themselves about beforehand either never come or are easily borne. They form a habit of fretting about future troubles. It was not the old monks alone who wore sackcloth and hair shirts; you wear them as much as they did; only you wear them inside, while they wore them outside – you wear them in your heart, they wore them on their body. They were wiser than you.”



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