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Curate's Corner - December 2016

Curate’s Corner

As the clocks go back and the nights start to draw in, there is no escaping the fact that winter is on its way. As I look out of my window writing this, the dreary November drizzle is here, and all is grey and murky. Looking beyond the drizzle, I can just make out the last glimpses of dazzling autumn colours on the trees, as the leaves slowly lose their grip and fall to the ground. It’s all a bit sad really.

I’m not a big fan of the dark. If I had my way, I would be happy for about 2 or 3 hours of darkness a night. I’d love to spend some time in Northern Finland where the sun doesn’t set at all between April and August. But wishful thinking won’t get me very far! So is there anything to commend this season of damp, dreary darkness? Well, actually I think there is. The extra hours of darkness also offer many opportunities to celebrate the light. Perhaps the first example of this was way back in early September when we were still clinging on to the end of summer, when the carnival procession lit up the dark streets of our town in the torch-light procession.

More recently we had the wonderful Pumpkin Art Festival at Little Horsted Church, again using light in the darkness to create a stunning and beautiful display.

Immediately after Halloween is All Saints Day, with All Souls Day the following day (2nd November). An opportunity to remember loved ones who have died, and to light a candle in their memory – a light of hope in the darkness of bereavement and grief.

Then comes bonfire night and the chance to huddle around the heat and light of a fire, and to gaze up in wonder as the sky is filled with colourful patterns. And of course, we’re not the only ones to use fireworks to celebrate. Hindu and Sikh communities use them to celebrate Diwali, and Muslims celebrate the end of Ramadan (Eid) with them as well.

But perhaps the greatest advantage of living in the Northern Hemisphere is the ability to celebrate Christmas at a time of year when the hours of daylight are so few. Trees are decorated with hundreds of tiny lights; high streets are strewn with festive lights; houses are adorned with all manner of weird and wonderful lighting displays – some even vaguely related to Christmas! We wait for the daylight to fade so that the lights can be appreciated in all their glory.

Lights in the darkness that herald something very special indeed.

And it was the light of a new star that heralded the birth of Jesus all those years ago, and gave direction to the wise men who travelled to see the new born king. A light in the darkness that showed the way. And that is what Jesus is still today; a light in the darkness, the light of the world.

It is one of the most powerful symbols of God’s Son that we know – a light that dispels the darkness of our lives – the darkness of evil; the darkness of pain and suffering; the darkness of grief. It is a light that gives hope to fractured lives and broken dreams.

Christmas is a time to gather together, to be with families and friends, to heal the wounds of hurt, and to forgive. For many, though, Christmas is a time when the darkness is overwhelming, when the celebrations of others serve only to deepen their own pain and isolation. So this Christmas, as we enjoy the lights of the season, let us reach out and be a light in someone’s darkness, that we too may reflect the light of Jesus, the light of the world.

Fr Mitch