Longing for Light

St. Michael’s Vicarage
Alnwick

Dear People of Alnwick,

I am writing this letter in the middle of November for an issue of ‘Gateway’ which covers the period to the end of January.

In terms of the Church’s year this will see us through Advent, Christmas and most of the season of Epiphany; times of patient expectation, of great rejoicing and of understanding how the baby born in the manger was God’s gift to the whole world.

As the weeks pass by, we know that the observation of these important days will take place – just as they always have down the ages – but just how we might be able observe them remains a mystery as we await further news on the ending of a second period of  ‘Lockdown’, what might be required in the way of ongoing restrictions and, in particular, the extent to which we may, or may, be able to gather with friends and family over Christmas and New Year.

Uncertainty is all around us – including the uncertainty of just when a safe and effective vaccine may be successfully developed and freely available.

It depends, to a large extent, on each individual’s personality as to just how much uncertainty one can deal with. For my own part, I function much better when I know what plans are and how they will be implemented; but the simple fact of the matter is that this is just not possible at the current time.

This time ‘round, Christmas and Epiphany may be times of ‘waiting’ just as much as Advent: waiting – but without the full knowledge of what might lie ahead.

The expectancy of Advent is always undergirded with the joyful anticipation of the birth of the Christ-child at Christmas and, although that everlasting joy and truth remains, it will, most likely, be the oddest of celebrations most of will have experienced.

More than ever, the opening words of the hymn we often sing in Advent reflect the mood of all of us ‘Longing for light, we wait in darkness’.

As we journey through the dark days of winter, however different our celebrations may have to be, we know in our heart of hearts that, come what may, our God will be with us. His love, demonstrated in the gift of his Son, is unwavering. Now, despite all the uncertainties, is a time to rest in that simple yet profound truth.

‘Be still, my soul: your God will undertake
to guide the future as he has the past.
Your hope, your confidence let nothing shake,
all now mysterious shall be clear at last.’

May you know God’s abiding presence as we continue to live through the uncertainties of these days and may our longing for light be rewarded with better days ahead.

With every blessing,
Paul

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