Sunday, December 21, 2014

Polarised Light?

Sermon preached at Our Lady of Walsingham and St Francis on the Fourth Sunday in Advent

It’s amazing how quickly the Sun sets in winter. We approach the shortest day of the year and, already by three o’clock in the afternoon, the night is drawing on. Above the Arctic Circle, there can be no daylight for months – at the Poles, there is one six month day and one six month night. Of course, we know full well that this is as short as the day can get. Even if we were living at the Poles, we would still know that the Dawn will break.

Yet, it can be so difficult to remember this when you’re in darkness. All we want to do is follow the bears and squirrels and hibernate. Wouldn’t it be nice just to sleep all through the winter, only waking to see the spring sun?

[PAUSE] At Newgrange in Ireland, there is an enormous tomb that is thousands of years old. It’s like a large mausoleum in which the ancients could enter and visit their dead relatives. However the interior is very, very dark. There is only a door and no windows. Yet, every Midwinter morning, the Sun shines through a tiny slit in the door and illuminates the interior completely. It only ever happens at this time: it’s as if the ancients knew and were waiting for the Sun to waken the dead.

During Advent, we’ve been reflecting on how we are to live in the darkness. We know that it’s easy to be afraid of the dark and of the things that move around in the darkness. We know that sometimes it is the darkness within mankind that we fear most. It can even be the darkness within ourselves that we fear most of all. So how should we live in the darkness?

St Paul bids us do something quite absurd: “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Rejoice always? In the dark? Really?


The thing is, if we want to wake up then we have to do it. We simply have to force ourselves out of bed. If we want to rejoice, then we just have to force ourselves to do it, and we shall find that we are soon able to. St Paul tells us that all our concerns will be met in Christ Himself. All of them, even the big, painful ones. We just have to open our eyes to the Light of Christ. Sometimes in order to be happy, we have to smile first in order to show ourselves how to be happy. Sometimes the way to feel like praying to God even in the midst of sadness is to start praying to Him in the first place. The promise is there, if we wish to receive it. We can have that peace of God which passes our understanding in the dark before it’s dawn. Then, when the dawn comes, we will finally see the Light of Christ born into the world.

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