Letter from Revd John Spiers, Associate Priest - February 2021
And light does more than create a festive mood - light brings hope.
These were the words used by the Queen in her Christmas Day broadcast, watched by over 8 million people.
As a priest in the Church of England, I know that the Queen, as well as being our Head of State, is the Head of the Church of England. When you become a priest you swear an oath of allegiance to the Queen.
Aside from her official role, the queen is a committed Christian. This year, as in all previous years, she alluded to this in her speech:
‘The teachings of Christ have served as my inner light, as has the sense of purpose we can find in coming together to worship.’
She went on to say that for Christians, Jesus is ‘the light of the world’. She ended her speech as follows:
‘The Bible tells how a star appeared in the sky, its light guiding the shepherds and wise men to the scene of Jesus’s birth. Let the light of Christmas — the spirit of selflessness, love and above all hope — guide us in the times ahead.’
This year has started as 2020 ended, with considerable uncertainty in our lives. To emerge from the darkness that has been caused by Coronavirus we will need to continue to be selfless, to show one another love and to have hope.
Will our lives be different? Or will we return to the old pattern of living that we had settled into before March 2020.
This is a difficult question which we cannot answer. Our lives may be radically different or may be quite similar to how they were. There will be people who have lost their jobs or whose loved ones have died. Their lives will be difficult and different.
One way that we can ease the pain that we may feel now and in the future is to consider that Christmas lasts for more than one day. This may seem an odd suggestion. Surely, we can’t go to all that trouble each day of the year. There are some people who will accept that Christmas may last for twelve days until the day when we celebrate the arrival of the wise men, the feast of Epiphany on January 6th. Yet for some, Christmas goes on much longer.
Formally, lasts until the Feast of Candlemas, 40 days after Christmas Day on February 2nd. Then the Nativity figures are packed away until next year, candles may be blessed, representing Jesus as the ‘light of the world’ and a prayer said which looks back to Christmas Day and forward to Easter.
But the gift of God’s Son, Jesus, as the light of the world, is for every day. So we should rejoice each day, hard though it may be for many over the next few months. We should rejoice at God’s gift to the world, a gift that brings hope even in the darkest of days.
Looking too far forward can be unsettling. Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying that the best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.
I hope and pray that everyone finds some light in their lives this year, a light that brings hope, which, if we treat every day as Christmas Day may be possible. We may not open presents but as each day unfolds, we should look for the little things that we can do that light up the darkness: a smile, a kind word, an offer of help, a phone call to someone we haven’t seen for a long time or a letter to an old friend or even a random act of kindness to a stranger who is in need.
All these things and many more will make the world a brighter place, a place of hope.
Reverend John Spiers