Autumn has arrived
Schools are back, September has come and gone. The nights are now beginning to draw in with Autumn arriving in a hurry, as both the temperature and the leaves on the trees change and begin to fall. Harvest, Halloween and who knows, maybe even Brexit… or not…will see out October, and dare I say it, before we know it, Christmas will be upon us.
For us in the Buckley household, one change over the last month has been most noticeable: Ellie’s well deserved, but none-the-less painful, absence from home after heading to Edinburgh to start the next exciting phase of her life. Mealtimes for a while seemed a little subdued, certainly quieter – sister, granddaughter, daughter – an Ellie-shaped hole which has seemed just so hard to fill.
For many, Autumn is a tough season – memories of hot sunny days, holidays and time with friends and family begin to fade and wither like the foliage all about us. It can all too easily feel like a season of decline and decay. Loss, whether temporary or permanent, both recent or long-standing can be so keenly felt as darkness creeps ever nearer.
But as the nights grow darker, as we perhaps feel increasingly diminished, or subdued, let us again embrace the truth as believers, that we have an enduring Living Hope: as the Passion Bible translation of John 1:5 declares:
“And this Living Expression is the Light that bursts through gloom – the Light that darkness could not diminish!”
English theologian and historian Thomas Fuller back in 1650 appears to be the first person to commit to paper the often-quoted, uplifting insight that: “It is always darkest just before the day dawneth.”
When we face challenges, culture all too quickly tells us to “take care of it yourself, just pull yourself together.” Resilience is one thing, but Jesus never intended for us to walk through difficult times alone. Christianity is not a faith of “I can do it” but a faith of “Christ can do it in me.”
In Hebrews 5:8-9, we read that we have a God who identifies with us in our struggles. He’s felt what we feel. He’s experienced what we know. There is nothing more powerful than when someone takes your hand and says, “I truly know what you are feeling.” Christ has experienced our deepest pain and is therefore uniquely positioned to be our perfect high priest and Saviour; He is able to identify with us in all our suffering and weakness.
God is not detached. He’s not distant or aloof. He’s ever-present and all knowing, with us in our grief, sadness and sorrow. So amongst the gathering gloom, we look forward to promise of Advent, the coming of, not just a returning Ellie, but most importantly the coming King, the light of the World – the one who truly is Immanuel – God with us.
Love Tim x