An early very happy Christmas!
Some years ago we had the opportunity as a family to spend Christmas with friends living in Peru. Christmas in Tropical temperatures – a wonderful prospect! But would we miss the seasonal darkness with its twinkling Christmas lights, the cosy fug of a living-room with curtains drawn, the chink of glasses fending off the winter gloom?
Funnily enough, no! We soaked up the heat and savoured wearing sandals and T-shirts. We loved the Spanish-style Christmas Night celebrations which only got into full swing after midnight, needing to slip away in the early hours to carry sleepy young children to bed. The shock came on our return, stepping off the plane into sub-zero temperatures at Bristol Airport.
On that occasion we could travel to the light. More usually winter’s darkness needs to be lived through. So we pin up our festive lights to brighten our world; I’m looking forward to the seasonal displays which will festoon village houses. The indoor Carrington Christmas lights have been known to brighten the home for quite some time after the season’s end…
‘The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who lived in a land of deep darkness – on them light has shined.’
The ancient words of the prophet Isaiah speak of light coming into darkness. Thankfully we have a God who did this – and continues to do so. Yet sometimes the darkness persists. We find that the darkness needs to be lived through. What then?
Mental illness can bring a particular darkness that can’t easily be lightened or escaped from. For some, winter can heighten this, especially Christmas. Whatever the season, there can seem to be no light, life to be unbearable, the world seemingly better without you. The attraction of closing the internal curtains and ending it all may for some sadly prove too much. Most of us will know of someone who has tragically run out of hope in this way. My own sister Sarah drew this conclusion and ended her own life at the age of 24.
What good is a God that only brings light? To be worth his salt, God must be willing to sit with us in the darkness too, to live through it with us.
Christmas already heralds the Cross. Christ stepped empathically into the darkness to be with us, for however long it takes. The night may seem interminable. Yet in time ‘the dawn from on high will break upon us,’ in both this world and the next.
Rev David Carrington
Team Vicar of Escot, Feniton and Payhembury
The Rectory, Station Road, Feniton 01404 850905