Dear People of Alnwick,
I am writing this letter only two days after the switch-on of the Alnwick¬†Christmas Lights ‚Äď and I want to pay tribute to that small but dedicated band¬†of folk who work tirelessly and manage to transform our town for the dark¬†days of December in such a spectacular way.
Many of us, I suspect, enjoy the pleasure of walking through the town,¬†soaking up the special atmosphere which the lights provide and perhaps¬†observing, in passing, that they make a pretty show.
Of course, nothing really worthwhile happens without a great deal of¬†unseen preparatory work and hidden effort (as our recent Winter Market¬†proved!) but I wonder how many people are aware that repair, maintenance¬†and preparation of the lights goes on weekly from the beginning of May each¬†year to ensure that our town looks so splendid over the festive season?
The message of Advent and Christmas ‚Äď from darkness to light ‚Äď also¬†involves much preparation, and not a little hard work, if we are to enjoy the¬†full light of Christ‚Äôs incarnation.
We read in the Old Testament how, down¬†the centuries, the prophets¬†spent time preparing the people of Israel¬†for the coming of their Messiah:¬†some of those people heard and others did not ‚Äď but that did not prevent¬†God‚Äôs preparatory work continuing.
When the time was right, God then sent his Son to be with us and, once¬†again, some were ready to recognise the light¬†and enhance their lives as a¬†result whilst others were not.
The questions I would like to pose for us to ponder as we journey through¬†Advent and Christmas this year are these: Do we simply see the birth of Christ¬†as a ‚Äėpretty‚Äô episode in our lives, bringing in a little light at a dark time of year?¬†Or, do we recognise the hard work of God behind the sending of his Son to¬†be our Saviour ‚Äď and have we prepared our hearts, our minds, our lives to¬†receive him?
Some time during January our Christmas lights will be dismantled ‚Äď but¬†the light of Christ will continue to shine in our lives and illuminate our way if¬†only we give him the opportunity to do so.
May the light of Christ fill your lives and may our simple but meaningful¬†prayer over these coming days be:
‚ÄúO come to my heart, Lord Jesus,
there is room in my heart for thee.‚ÄĚ
With every blessing for Christmas and all that lies ahead in 2014,