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December/January Pastoral Letter from Simon

01 December 2016

Dear Friends,

The Gospel according to St John does not begin with an account of Jesus’ birth, but rather with a reflection on who Jesus is. This well-known passage of scripture, known as the Prologue to John’s gospel, is often read at Advent and Carol Services. In the passage, Jesus is described as the light coming into the world: ‘The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.’ (John 1:5). There is much light and goodness in our world, for which we praise God, but sadly there is also much darkness.

I think that the worst darkness is that which comes out of the human heart and, all too often, we experience and witness events such as last year’s terrorist outrage in Paris and we see the constant stream of refugees fleeing their homelands in an attempt to escape violence and hardship. In this country, many families will be reliant on food banks this Christmas and in our own lives we have the dark corners of hurt, bereavement, guilt and loss.

Christmas reminds us each year that the light of God’s love has come into the world and the darkness will not overcome it. In a way that’s like the night sky; we see the pinpricks of light, stars shining light years away, and the vast darkness of space cannot overwhelm them, they are still visible to us here on earth. As we prepare again to welcome the Christ Child, who is the light of the world,

I pray that we will re-commit ourselves to allowing the light of his love to shine into the dark corners of our lives. We will then be enabled to share that light with those around us and make the world a brighter place. For as long as time has been recorded, the greeting ‘Happy New Year’ has been used. With each New Year comes the chance of a fresh start, the resolve to do or to achieve more and the hope of brighter things in store.

However, in our personal lives I guess that many of us are also carrying our own fears and anxieties and New Year reminds us that we are stepping out into the depth of worldly darkness again. Perhaps we ask as Christians how can we embrace our unknown future in trust and hope.

Here are some words of Christian hope; words from a poem by M L Haskins which were broadcast by King George VI at the beginning of the Second World War,

And I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year:

“Give me a light that I may tread safely into the unknown”.

And he replied:

“Go out into the darkness and put your hand into the Hand of God. That shall be to you better than light and safer than a known way”.

So I went forth, and finding the Hand of God, trod gladly into the night.

As we look forward we need not be fearful and we must do our utmost not to let our personal apprehensions take control. Instead, we look and move eagerly forward to all that God has in store for us in 2017 and in years to come.



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