The days are growing shorter and with daylight savings time, darkness comes far earlier. There is a chill in the air. Soon we will begin another church year with arrival of the season of Advent. Through much of the season the days will continue growing shorter as the darkness seems to linger.
In the church the days of Advent are not just days for getting ready for Christmas, they are also days of hope. As the darkness grows deeper and thicker, so does our hope. In my home we remind ourselves of this growing hope with candles. As many nights as we can we end each day by gathering as a family. We turn off the electric lights and light candles, one for each day of Advent. During that first week the room stays dark. But slowly, bit by bit the light grows. By the winter solstice, the longest night of the year there are twenty or more candles flickering in the room. They do not just provide light, but warmth as well.
Those tiny flames are a reminder of hope. There are no end to dark stories these days. Some are so dark that for a time there seems to be no hope. But even in the deepest darkness Jesus finds a way to be present. Jesus finds a way into our lives, a glimmer of hope, the smallest possibility of comfort, a hint of compassion. Like the tiny flame from a candle flickering in the dark of a cold winter’s night.
The most wonderful thing about the flame of a candle is this: lighting a second candle from the first does not diminish the flame of the first. This is the love of God, coming into our lives. It is love that grows as it is shared, a love that thrives in families and communities, between friends near and far. It is the love that sustains us when all else is lost.
May you have a blessed Advent season and may the growing light of Jesus prepare you to receive him once more.
Pr Paul Walters