There seems to be so much darkness at the moment. I can’t remember another year quite like this one. Over the last couple of months the news has been a procession of sadness and fear. As we approach Advent i’m certainly on board with its themes of longing for hope and looking for the coming light.
In the face of atrocities which have suddenly and unexpectedly affected the lives of so many innocent and ordinary people I have found myself being reminded of the temporary nature of our time on this Earth in the starkest of ways. However, as a follower of Christ I know that however overwhelming the darkness may seem we are never without hope.
‘All the darkness in the world cannot extinguish the light of a single candle.’ – This quote, found in ‘The Little Flowers’ a collection of works by St Francis of Assisi reminds us that even in the most difficult of times we are not left totally desolate. As we consider the quote further we realise that quite to the contrary, it is in the moments of greatest darkness that the light which remains seems at it’s brightest as it stands in contrast to all its surroundings.
I am, of course, looking forward to Christmas but that’s not the only exciting event this December. This month will also see the release of a new Star Wars film. I loved the original trilogy and am thrilled that my son, Owen has now discovered them in a big way! One of my favourite parts of the original trilogy was always the wisdom of the old Jedi master Yoda. Perhaps a quote of his stands as a good response to the climate of fear certain groups would seek to create, ‘Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Angers leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.’
Let us not be drawn into further division by the prevalent darkness of recent events but strive in all things to find a greater sense of ‘oneness’. This year as we journey together through the promise of Advent there may be for us a heightened sense of longing in our preparations. As we strive to make ready for the coming light may we be ready to reflect that light further into our broken world.
I wish you peace as you prepare once more to welcome Christ this Christmas.
I first heard about the excellent Post Pals on a show called Russell Howard’s good news.
It’s a way that you can help a terminally ill child to experience joy
Post Pals allows members of the public to log online at their own leisure and find a Pal. They write a simple letter, card and/or gift known as Posty to the Pal without expecting any kind of reply. Pals siblings may also require support, it can be hard when one family member receives a lot of the attention, so we have included the name and age of our Pals brothers and sisters for you to contact if you so wish, you may also wish to enclose a note to the parents.
Perhaps this Advent you might like to sign up and start sharing some joy with families that are facing great hardship
Heavenly father, this day we bring to you our prayer for hope
Into a world where we see so much pain and suffering – We pray for hope
Into lives where we see pain and suffering – We pray for hope
Into our communities, wherever we see divisions – We pray for hope
Into our own lives when we feel lost or disheartened – We pray for hope
God is our hope and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore will we not fear, though the earth be moved,
and though the hills be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though the waters thereof rage and swell,
and though the mountains shake at the tempest of the same.
There is a river, the streams whereof make glad the city of God,
the holy place of the tabernacle of the Most High.
— Psalms 46: 1-4
As the nights draw in around the close of the year and the darkness seems as though it might last forever it can be easy to lose our sense of hope. The cold and the rain only serve to exacerbate our misery and can lead to many people feeling tired and alone. That’s one of the reasons why the tree in our house goes up very early in Advent. Tucked up in a warm house watching the gentle glow of twinkling Christmas tree lights with my family around me I am always reminded of the impending arrival of Christ as Light Of the World. In those moments whatever darkness which lies within me bred from any feeling of hopelessness seems to disappear. I remember that winter is just a fleeting season, the sun will rise again.
Where do you find your hope?
‘Driving Home for Christmas’, ‘Please come home for Christmas’, ‘I’ll be home this Christmastime’ and ‘I’ll be home for the holidays’, just a few of the many Christmas songs that you’ll no doubt of all ready heard as we begin our journey of Advent.
Each year for many people there will be a real desire to make their way ‘home’ to be around family and friends this Christmas. Of course the theme of ‘going home’ or at least going to the right home could be said to be central to the message of the Bible. However this is not the nostalgic, cosy homecoming represented by hugging your parents, eating Mum’s best Yorkshire’s and watching ‘Home Alone’ together.
The homecoming that is talked about in this passage from Isaiah is a whole world event where all of us are invited to be part of a new creation. This new creation has, at it’s very centre, the insistence that God is Sovereign, that his temple will be exalted over everything in creation.
The passage also suggests, I feel, that this new home is not something that is a long way off. Verse 2 in the NIV says that this vision occurs ‘In the last days’ but this could just as easily be translated, as the NRSV chooses to, as ‘days to come’.
We are called not to wait for our arrival at this new home but rather to change our way of thinking and looking at the world so that, like the prophet, we too may ‘see’ the vision of a world re-created by God.
So as we begin our journey of advent we do so seeking the hope of a home where we may truly ‘walk in the light of the Lord’