Blessings in the Dark
New Year Blessings to everyone, with love from St Peter’s Church family.
I imagine that, like me, this Christmas will go down for you as the most strangest, bitter-sweet, confusing times – some of us having had the opportunity of being with loved ones, some restricted in doing so, and for others, restrictions or no restrictions, they would have been on their own anyone but hopefully many comforted by wonderful volunteers who gave Christmas-dinner love….
Someone said to me ‘Well, there’s no point in Christmas, we can’t be together anyway and so it’s just like any other day – it’s all very dark and dismal….’ Well that might be true, if we measure Christmas in these terms.
But actually, I invite you to go a little deeper, to step into the dark and dismal Covid-19 space and acclimatise your mind, body and spirit to the dark – and look again…. I wonder if you are able to find any blessings – blessings in the dark….?
I can’t speak for you, but I have had to walk through some dark spaces this year in one way or another – be it having to close St Peter’s to public prayer and worship and to the social gatherings that are the hub of our Fellowship – be it having to take the funerals of dear loved ones who have passed on this year – or be it my own personal experiences of having to endure some unwelcome walks in the darkness..
But as I reflect and look back on the year past, I can see glimpses of blessings – new and dear friendships made in the most unexpected places – new patterns and styles of worship emerging to spice things up a bit ( J) – and new ways of drawing in a scattered community closer to the heart of our church – as people are able to access services that they were once unable to do via our livestream attempts and YouTube follow-ups.…
It’s true we have missed our loved ones and the glitz and glamour of Christmas that we all enjoy, but for Wrecclesham, we did shine as brightly as we could as we took time to remember the star of Bethlehem and its symbolic promise of light in the dark and hope in the despair of chaos through the birth of Jesus, who brought God’s love down on the ground to meet us where we are – a light and hope that wasn’t brought to us because of the dark – but despite the dark….
But how dark it is before the dawn so they say… We have the hope that the vaccine will hugely help us to beat back the virus and restore some sort of order to things, and we also have the hope and promise of the Spirit and light of Christmas-love taking us onward.
This is symbolised in the Church by the Feast of Candlemas on 2nd February that we celebrated on the last Sunday of January – a time when the nativity crib is put away and marking the moment between the official ending of Christmas and the beginning of the journey towards Lent, leading on to the journey to the cross and the new beginnings and new hope promises of Easter. Jesus, the light of the world is presented in the Temple and Simeon and Anna recognise the long-awaited Messiah, the light of the world. That is why traditionally, our candles from home accompany the church candles to be blessed by the Holy Spirit of the light of the world.
The wonderful thing about this celebration is that it also has very earthy traditions – rooted in folk lore and rural preparations of the winter earth for new spring planting – symbolically called ‘the awakening’ – complete with its own weather warning!
‘If Candlemas day be fair and bright, winter will have another flight.
If Candlemas day be shower and rain, winter is gone and will not come again.’
Candlemas speaks to Christians as a revealing of Jesus as a heaven and earth mediator – holding our divine, spiritual journey towards the Easter promise of new life, and the human earthy, on-the-ground journey towards the new hope of new life sprouting forth beneath the earth in nature and in the buds forming on trees and plants. For example, snowdrops known as the Candlemas Bells – symbolise a sign of hope – and bringing snowdrops indoors at Candlemas is a symbolic way of purifying our homes.
Wherever and whatever your dark places have been this year and this Christmas and winter season, I wish you hope and safekeeping as we continue to walk on into the darkness but this time, with the light of vaccine relief, the Spirit of Christmas-love, and the promise of longer days and newness of springtime shining the way.
God Bless and stay safe, comforted and hopeful… Love Revd Jacqueline
Bless the candles of hope in the homes they will light.
Bless the snowdrops of spring in the homes they will adorn.
May all who dwell within be filled with your Spirit.
May strangers be welcomed and new friendships be forged.
In the name of Jesus, the light and new life of the world. Amen
Read more clergy letters.