Today, as I’m writing these thoughts, I’m reminded that today happens to be the shortest day of the year. For you as readers at least, by the time you read these words, it will be some weeks later with the renewed hope of slowly extending days. However, for me right now, a few days’ time will see our Christmas season ending and the beginning of a new, if still uncertain new year. Despite the bright, glittering lights that are currently shinning out across Widcombe, there still remains a very real darkness and unsettling gloom with times of uncertainty and challenge across so many spheres; Covid variants, financial uncertainty, destructive weather patterns, political integrity, scepticism and indifference, loneliness and isolation, climate change, increase in mental health issues… I could go on.In some ways, especially after all the Christmas lights have come down and people’s houses feel so bare and stark, perhaps never more so than in these ongoing days of Covid, January, with its enduring darkness, can feel a like a bit of a con as a new start, full of ‘new year beginnings’ and ‘renewed hope’.
However, the life changing message and Good News of Jesus (as is equally true for puppies) was never meant to be just for Christmas! Indeed, the love of the Father, the presence of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit are constant, unchanging and available for all, at all times and in all places, as we follow Jesus into this new season. God knows both the joys and the challenges facing us and unfailingly walks alongside us through it all.
It was precisely into our darkness that Jesus the ‘true light that gives light to everyone’ arrived. His birth changed the course of human history for ever. And each moment of each hour, of each day and each year, offers a fresh opportunity, a further adventure, the next part of our journey with Him, to experience first-hand new grace and mercy as we travel on The Way.
Despite the darkness of a worldwide pandemic, the light of God’s love is still plainly seen in our church community and beyond; in our fellowship with one another, in the generous giving of finances, time, support and help, and in our listening to, our serving and caring for those around us, shaping and inspiring our prayers. God continues to pour out His love and light around us throughout all creation, and it’s key at times like this that we find space to pause and look again at the countless signs of God’s Kingdom about us, to give thanks for His love, His light and His presence…That is my prayer for you all this season of early 2022.
For truly the light does shine in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Malcolm Guite, an English poet, singer-songwriter, academic and Anglican priest, puts it very movingly like this:
I see your world in light that shines behind me,
Lit by a sun whose rays I cannot see,
The smallest gleam of light still seems to find me,
Or find the child who’s hiding deep inside me.
I see your light reflected in the water,
Or kindled suddenly in someone’s eyes,
It shimmers through translucent leaves in summer,
Or spills from silver veins in leaden skies,
It gathers in the candles at our vespers,
It concentrates in tiny drops of dew,
At times it sings for joy, at times it whispers,
But all the time it calls me back to you.
I follow you upstream through this dark night
My saviour, source, and spring, my life and light.
Love Tim x