Rector's Letter - December 2016

Since the clocks went back in October, we have been watching the darker winter nights draw in. Part of me finds winter difficult: I miss the sunlight and warmth. But there are evenings when the fire is lit, and a different mood prevails. Somehow the firelight creates a cosiness and safety. The darkness outside doesn't disappear, but it keeps its place. Those wonderful words from John's Gospel come to mind, 'The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will never put it out.'

The season of Advent, a season of waiting and hope as we begin to prepare for Christmas celebrations and the coming of Christ, is infused with themes of light and darkness, which can speak powerfully into our lives. I write this (due to early magazine editorial deadlines!) on the day that the American election results have been announced. I am deeply disturbed and disheartened. So are my American friends who have all been in touch with me today, devastated at the result, speaking of their shock, and just a little afraid. There are days I would love to shake the world out of its madness. I can only see this as a vote that supports hatred, disunity, discrimination and more besides. I can only see it as a vote for darkness. And I am praying somehow that somehow matters will be reigned in by political systems and a rationality that I hope will prevail.

It becomes more important than ever to know that the Advent themes of light shining in the darkness has something relevant to offer us today. It is not a season which avoids darkness, but stares into it, and begins to allow the message of light to seep in and shine brightly within the darkness. All the readings in this season are filled with wonderful words anticipating the coming of the Light of the World: the coming of Christ. God coming to live with us in a new way. Darkness isn't banished, but the light shines in it, alongside us. The message of Advent is a message of hope.

As you begin your own preparations for the Christmas season, I hope you will find time also for preparing yourself to hear once again the joyful news of Christmas: the glad tidings and great joy of a child's birth.

God is with us. May the season of joy bring you your own joy this Christmas.

With best wishes