Winter was a bit slow in coming this year, but now it has arrived in time for Christmas. The days seem dark and the amount of rain that is coming down makes you think there can’t be any more rain left up there. I suppose the people in the days of the great flood thought something similar!
It’s nice then to see the lights appearing all over the place. Mr Grumpy in me thinks its all far too early, but the child in me takes great delight in seeing the colours appearing in people’s windows adding a little warmth and light to the dark days and wintry nights. It seems to bring alive in a way, the last few words from the first reading from Baruch for the second Sunday of Advent: ‘for God will guide Israel in joy by the light of his glory with his mercy and integrity for escort.’ In the deep mid-winter we need something to brighten up our days and put a little spring into our steps again, rather than having to huddle up against the wind and the driving rain. I don’t know if you remember that advert for the breakfast cereal where the children went out into the cold day with the warm glow inside them. Well, we need something to give us that warm glow; not the breakfast cereal, but something inside us that keeps us joyful, which insulates us from the harshness not just of winter - but of life.
Each day has enough worries of its own, Jesus said trying to give us some advice on not worrying. Probably not worrying is the hardest thing; some people seem to have earned the right to worry: mothers and fathers for a start. It would be a lot more pleasant if we could just slow down our life a bit and take hold of the present and realise that we didn’t have to go chasing after the next thing to make our life secure, or to make it better for ourselves and the ones we love. There are plenty of lights around to give us a bit of hope for the future, and none more so than the mercy and integrity of God. Just thinking about them brings us a little peace and reassures us that there is no need to rush headlong into the next crisis. We can take time to enjoy the thought that every crisis will pass but the mercy and integrity of God remains as a strong foundation on which to build our life. If we were just willing to make use of it when it is offered, our life could be less frantic and more peaceful, more enjoyable even. It would be that safe room within us where we could retire to when we felt life was running away from us; not a delusion or denial of life, but a space to calm down and realise that although life seemed to be out of control, we knew someone who could get things back on track, someone who had a bigger horizon than us and could see further.
Next time I see the Christmas lights, I’ll tell Mr Grumpy to quiet down and take a deep breath and thank God for his mercy and integrity.