A guest post by the Revd Suzie Ellis
‘The sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings’ (Malachi 4:2)
‘Arise, shine for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon
you’ (Isaiah 60:1)
I’m among those who have responded to Bishop David’s call to pray each
dawn for the countries of the Middle East, (using Malachi 4:2 [above] as
inspiration). I‘ve certainly listened with deep concern to the grim news
coming out of northern Iraq and Syria, and for the ongoing bloodshed in
Israel and Gaza. It’s hard not to feel utterly helpless in the face of so much
suffering; but it’s helped to pray, knowing others are doing the same. And
it’s good that together we’re trusting in God’s promise that light and healing
finally will win through. For wherever there is fear, hatred and violence,
wherever there is injustice and oppression (whether within a family, or
between whole peoples) darkness flourishes. And darkness, as I preached
on Remembrance Sunday, must be met and illumined by light.
This month we are celebrating Christmas, and the coming of God among
us in the birth of Jesus Christ. Here, as John’s gospel put it, ‘the true light
that gives light to every man was coming into the world’ (John 1:9) And it
really is as important as that! For Jesus came to bring the light of God’s life
into human hearts, minds and souls. The story of the Nativity pulses with
that light: angels blazing in the night sky over Bethlehem, the great star
shining guidance for travellers from the east, and at the centre of it all, a
child aglow with the light of love. It’s a story that invites us all to enter into
that love; It’s for the poor, the stranger and the outcast; but it’s also for
those who seem to have it all, but who secretly ache with emptiness deep
within. It’s for those who already know how to love, and for those who
need to learn this. And once we’ve glimpsed something of the light of God,
and welcomed the Christchild, then that light begins to shine in our hearts
too. It may at first seem a small fragile spark, easily lost in the darkness
around us. But as we protect and nurture it (just as the infant Jesus
needed to be protected and cared for) then it will strengthen and grow …
and so begin to transform us, to become the amazing light-filled creations
that God always planned us to be!
Christmas then, is the reminder that the light of God, the glory of God, truly
has risen over us; and is calling us to journey on as pilgrims, shedding light
around us as we go. As Little Bear once remarked to Big Bear, ‘there’s still
a lot of dark out there’*; so rise up, and go and shine!
The light, love and peace of Christmas be with you!
* ‘Can’t you Sleep Little Bear’, by Martin Waddell, Walker Books
Other readers are always welcome to send in their own contributions.