Pause for Thought December 2015

At this time of year on my nine mile bus journey from school to home, it would be almost dark. I would be on the look-out for the first Christmas tree lights to appear in the windows of the houses along the route.  By the beginning of December there would usually be at least one house with a tree.   As we approached the end of term the daily tally of Christmas trees would increase until there were too many to keep count as we sped past.   That was back in the early 70’s, now we have lights on the outside of our houses as well - reindeers and stars, snowmen and flashing icicle strands.  I wonder what new lights there will be this Christmas around the villages?

In the darkness of mid-winter, it is good to be able to brighten up our homes and our environment with dazzling lights.  But it is also good to think about the true light of the world, Jesus of Nazareth.
We all know we are living in troubling times, with darkness to be found in many parts of the world. There is nothing new in any of this, human beings have always had a terrifying capacity for evil, but now news is so immediate, broadcast 24 hours a day into our homes and on our smartphones.  Appalling images.  The darkness of ISIS in Iraq and Syria and so close to us in Paris, millions of people displaced by war and oppression in refugee camps and on the move, overloaded boats capsizing in the Mediterranean, the list goes on and on...  

And there is the kind of darkness that comes to us all at some stage or another.  There will be folk facing Christmas for the first time without a loved one.  There will be many who are lonely.  Over half a million older people in Britain feel lonelier on Christmas Day than any other time of the year according to a survey published this week by the Royal Voluntary Service, a charity working with the elderly.  There will be parents struggling to provide what their children are expecting, mindful that some of their friends are getting the best of everything.  For a significant proportion of people and for lots of different reasons, Christmas is not an easy time.

The gospel writer John as he introduces Jesus, says, ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it  The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world’. That is the good news of this season, and indeed the good news of the Christian faith.   The light of Jesus Christ will never go out, and He is with us though all the up’s and downs of life, although we sometimes don’t realise it until we look back afterwards.   The light keeps shining in the dark, and the darkness has never put it out.
Jesus is born for us all.   It is a timeless message that endures after every festive light has been taken down, and one that can change every life for the better.
Wishing you a very happy Christmas
Julie Stanton, Barnack Community Church