Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Walking in Darkness

The final blog post of our “Reigniting the Light of Christmas” comes from Kelsey of Edinburgh.

Shivering,
I open my eyes.
The dark leaps to fill my vision as
Deepest night yawns ahead of me.
I am alone.

Straining to see,
Neon spots flicker across my sight,
rotating in a dizzying mirage
Until I let go of looking
And embrace the unknown.

Tentatively,
I reach out a hand
And catch a whisper of wind.
Cool air rustling dry leaves to my left
And whistling along a stone wall to my right,
Calling me forward.

Fingertips feeling
And breeze at my back
I make my way through inky black
Until sudden singing catches my breath
And breaks over my head in waves of euphoria;
“Glory, glory, glory!”

My shuffling steps quicken
And soon an intriguing waft of spices
Mixes with the rust of earth and leaves,
Until the bitter tang of ammonia
Takes my nose by surprise.

Then empty air meets my right hand
As I reach the end of the wall;
I turn to face the light revealed,
spilling from an open door.

Gathered in the glow
A jumble of bodies
Drawn out of the dark
To the light that has come.

Breath and song rise into the cold night
Mingling with the earthy scents and hubbub of humanity.

Hands still outstretched, unsteady,
I walk in to a welcome,
To a babe in the straw.
A small room awash with light
My fingertip held in a tiny clasp
No longer alone in the dark.

Kelsey is originally from New Zealand but is very much at home in Scotland, where she works in textiles in a weaving mill and spends her free time creating other beautiful bits of art and poetry.

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Thankfulness

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore, we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
Alex from Orkney shares with us how thankfulness and gratitude helps him to reignite the light of Christmas.

Christmas has arrived once again and I doubt I am the only one who enjoys buying and receiving gifts at Christmas.

When I get a gift at Christmas I love being able to thank the person who has given it to me. It is so good to say thanks when you receive a gift, to acknowledge the giver’s thoughtfulness and kindness.

Recently I have been aware of the goodness of God before praying and have been realizing afresh just how amazing the Giver of life is. Ruth and I have both been overwhelmed by his kindness and are thankful for this. We think there is nothing better than knowing and resting in the truth that God has given us so many gifts even before we start to pray.

‘Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. Give thanks to Him, bless His name’ Psalm 100:4

The list of gifts Jesus has given us is endless. He has given us love, joy, peace and life in abundance. Jesus came bring us into right standing with God. And because of this gift of righteousness we get to be in God’s presence. What a beautiful place to be. But it is no good receiving an amazing gift and not knowing who to be thankful to for it.

‘Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow’
James 1:17

Praise God that at this time of year we get to understand and know afresh the one to be thankful towards. Not only for the gifts he has given us, but for creating us to be in His Presence.

Alex Green is married to Ruth and they live in Orkney and attend Stromness Baptist Church. Alex works as a Landscape Builder and also enjoys making sculptures from time to time.

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – A Single Candle

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.“ It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore, we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
David from Dundee shares with us how he uses a single candle to engage with the “true Light” of Christmas.

Christmas seems to arrive earlier each year and as usual it comes with glitter, baubles and fairy lights.
I remember one December driving home from work along a country road, as I drove over the brow of a hill there below me was not just the usual lights from houses in a village, but every house and tree covered with hundreds of lights to welcome the festive season. It looked fabulous, but I wondered how much pressure had been put on some of those villagers to join in, to be part of it, not to let their side down!

Right from the beginning of November there is increasing pressure to join in, to spend, to prepare for the perfect Christmas day. Some of this pressure is good – it is great to celebrate and to holiday, to help charities and to remember the Christmas Story.
In our family, my three daughters made sure we filled every wall and corner with lights from December 1st. They loved the excitement, the build up to Christmas…

But, at the risk of being called a humbug, we also need to remember the darker side of Christmas. Many of my friends here, who have already had to cope with difficult experiences in their past, find Christmas a really difficult time of year. Those who have gradually weaned themselves from alcohol addiction find it hard when everyone is invited and expected to get into the party spirit. Many of the people I meet – people who access support though projects and community cafes just to keep going – simply miss the support that they can usually count on as support services close over the holiday break.
Most of the guys who bravely resist the addictive cravings they experience every day have also experienced the break-up of family and close relationships through the years they were addicted. They will struggle at Christmas as they feel keenly the absence of the family.

I prepare for Christmas by lighting a single candle, sitting in the dark and the quiet – very deliberately pushing away the expectations and pressures of a perfect, glitzy Christmas, choosing to resist the commercial pressure to buy bigger and better gifts, and simply focusing on the one light.

Jesus came, and in the darkness the one light shone. My life, like his, is just one, but with that life I can choose to talk to the addict and the homeless or to shop for the perfect present. I can choose to focus on bringing hope to those who can’t afford the perfect Christmas, or to make my own Christmas as perfect as it can be.

D.L. Moody said, “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. What I can do, I should do, and what I should do – God being my helper I will do.”

Reigniting the Light of Christmas – Advent

John 1 says of Jesus, “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. It continues on to say that Jesus is the “true light”. The run-up to Christmas is filled with lights – twinkling fairy lights, candles, lanterns, signs alight and flashing as businesses all compete for the attention of shoppers. Some of the lights are pleasant and cheery, some not so much. But none of them last. When the season is over they will all be taken away and we will be plunged into wintery darkness once again. But the “true light” that entered into our world long ago does not leave us. He still shines out in the darkness and we as His followers have a unique opportunity at Christmas to pull back the curtain of busyness, consumerism and false attempts at merry-making for the true Light to be seen in and through our lives.

Therefore we asked a few people to share with us over the next few weeks how they are personally reigniting the “true” light of Christmas in their own lives this year.
Crystal starts us off with how she is engaging with Advent more intentionally.

Advent – coming.

This simple word has lodged itself in my heart this year and has had me pondering. And has influenced my way of celebrating and engaging with Christmas.

I love Christmas, always have. I am always counting down the days until I can put up the tree and lights and then I try to keep them up as long as possible – until the poor tree is shrivelled and dried to half its original size!

But this year this word Advent has had me approaching the celebratory aspects of Christmas a bit more slowly. Yes, the tree is up – it hasn’t slowed me that much!

However, I have been more aware of the current darkness, pain, suffering, the deep bone weariness & exhaustion, frustrated restlessness, angry impatience, the quiet despairing resignation, and the deep, hungry yearning for hope in the world and in my friends and family. Therefore what Christmas truly represents has felt so important and I have not wanted to rush into the surface merry-making, but sit with the deeper truth of this season and let it sink into my being.

Shauna Niequist says, “There are years when the Christmas spirit is hard to come by, and it’s in those seasons when I’m so thankful for Advent. Consider it a less flashy but still very beautiful way of being present to this season. Give up for a while your false and failing attempts at merriment, and thank God for thin places, and for Advent, for a season that understands longing and loneliness and long nights. Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.

I am “falling open to Advent” through my homemade Advent calendar. Little envelopes hanging on a wee paper tree and in each envelope is the name of someone to pray for and send an encouraging note to.
Then I am reading this profound little daily Advent devotional by Walter Bruggemann called Celebrating Abundance.
In the silent early hours of each morning I make my cup of coffee, take that day’s name from the envelope, sit by the tree, and prayerfully read through the devotional, allowing the gentle whisper of Holy Spirit to do its work in my own heart before turning my prayers to the name scribbled on the bit of paper.

There has been no great moment of mind-blowing revelation. But rather a slowly building sense of quiet anticipation, an increased longing for Jesus and for His light to penetrate the darkness and struggle in which those I know and love and those I don’t know find themselves in at the moment. Because Advent is for these people especially. And so I look towards Christmas, anticipating that Light to come and fill what is empty, repair the broken and restore what has been lost.