Great Expectations – Sunday, December 27, 2020

With a new year on the horizon, it’s traditional to reflect on the year that has passed. And what a year it has been! A global pandemic, natural calamities, social unrest, political turmoil—so many problems and protests, disasters and disagreements have swirled around us. At the same time, we’ve also had moments we will forever cherish. As we look back on 2020, we see good and bad, ups and downs, things we’d like to forget, and things we hope to remember.

Even so, most of us feel like we’re ready for a fresh start, a new beginning. That’s the beautiful thing about a new year. It’s full of possibilities, full of hope—or, as Charles Dickens might say, full of “great expectations.”

In his novel by that name, Dickens chronicles the lives of characters who endure many injustices. Pip is orphaned, betrayed, jilted, and humbled. Estella likewise endures cruel manipulations, heartache, and disappointment. In the end, after these two characters have grown older and wiser, Estella reflects on their experiences. “Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching,” she says. “… I have been bent and broken, but—I hope—into a better shape.”[1]

We all face challenges that shape the course of our lives. But that shape and that course are still ours to choose. Will we be hardened or softened by our hardships? Will our difficulties drive us to seek better things in this new year, or will they drag us down, causing us to turn our back on belief and hope? In the wake of sharp contentions, will we work toward reconciliation and peace or wallow in division and anger? When we feel bent and broken under the weight of life’s heavy burdens, will we, like Estella, be bent and broken into a better shape?

To be sure, this past year has been a struggle, a great sorrow for far too many of us. But through it all, we carry on, we hope on, we trust in God and find comfort and strength in Him. That is our “great expectation”—to bear with perspective and courage whatever the future holds, trusting that if we are bent and broken, we will emerge from it “into a better shape.”

[1] Charles Dickens, Great Expectations (1881), 523.


December 27, 2020  The Best Days Ahead
Broadcast Number 4,763

The Tabernacle Choir
Orchestra at Temple Square
Bells on Temple Square

Mack Wilberg

Special Guest Artist
Dallyn Vail Bayles

Bells Conductor
LeAnna Willmore

Brian Mathias

Lloyd Newell


This Little Light of Mine
African-American Spiritual; arr. Mack Wilberg

Arise, O God, and Shine
John Darwell; arr. Mack Wilberg

The Ash Grove
Welsh melody; arr. John Longhurst

Vivace con Spirito
Jason W. Krug

I’ll Begin Again, from Scrooge
Leslie Bricusse; arr. Richard Elliott

Hold On, from The Secret Garden
Lucy Simon; arr. Ryan Murphy

Let There Be Peace on Earth
Sy Miller & Jill Jackson; arr. Michael Davis