Pictorial blethers

By blethers

The light shines in the darkness ...

My #2 son has beaten me to it this evening with a post about why he's still enjoying his Christmas tree, the lights, the decorations - all of which he put up a week before Christmas. I was pleased to be beaten (this once!) because I was thinking the same thing even before I noticed that two of the three National Lampoon houses across the road seem to have taken down the lights that I feared might drive me mad all through December. Yes, I'm glad that the traditions with which we brought up our family have taken root, though I'm about to take things further ...

As followers of my blogs and blips and poems will have realised, I have a strong feeling of affinity with our Celtic forebears, living through the long nights of a northern winter, holding their feasts to cheer the solstice long before the Christian festival was overlaid on their festivities. Lights in the darkness are so important here, so necessary to our human need for warmth and light and optimism. The symbolism of light is ubiquitous, and the nights are still dark despite the passing of the shortest day - and if ever we needed light in the current darkness of our society, we need it now.

But hey - people here celebrate Christmas, whether they're Christians or not. Our neighbours don't celebrate Diwali, or Hanukkah - but they say "Merry Christmas" for a day or two before the 25th. And then? And then they stop, take down the tattered trees that have been drying out for a month already, put away the lights, tidy up the presents, "get back to normal". But the focus of Christmas is what? Oh - there was a baby. We're supposed to celebrate the birth of a baby, right? 

Now, if I were talking about this to a young child, I might point out that the last month of pregnancy isn't much fun (my pal said as much in her sermon this morning.) Not something to put on a light show about. And then the baby is born. Let's say on 25 December. Do we stop being excited about it a couple of days later? Do we stop telling people we've had a baby? Stop feeling celebratory, stop feeling special? Don't think so.

So my blip today is of all the extra candles I could find in church this morning - from the wonderfully gnarled candles in the Advent Wreath to the fantastic flower decoration topped with a fat candle to the angels guarding the organ casing to the welcoming lights in the porch. All alight, all celebrating what in our church we know as Christmas 1. The First Sunday of Christmas. If we could have sung, we'd have had Christmas hymns. As it was, I sang the Coventry Carol - it's the Feast of the Innocents tomorrow. And I'm glad I belong to a community that knows these things, where the candles and the crib will stay for the full 12 days of Christmas - not because I pin everything on a literal acceptance of every detail of the story, but because it symbolises something that changed people. 

If I haven't put off everyone by this rant, I'll tell you that my extra photo comes from the walk we fitted in between showers of sleet and frozen rain. You can see the next shower approaching in the wonderfully threatening sky; it caught up with us when we had a mile or so still to walk. The tree is almost dead, but not quite. And if you think the title sounds familiar, it comes from the beginning of St John's gospel. 

And the darkness has not overcome it.

Sign in or get an account to comment.