There are times in our lives when we struggle against the darkness. It may be the death of a partner, child, parent or good friend, or possibly depression as the result of overworking, illness, financial burden or redundancy. When the days are dark, the temperature plummets and everybody else is getting excited about Christmas or escaping to the sun, along comes Advent with the longest night of the year and the shortest darkest days. It's time to think about the saying: "it's better to light a candle than curse the darkness".
Advent is about the coming of light in the form of Christ, the Light of the world, who comes to transform our darkest days by his presence. In the church we light a new candle every Sunday (beginning this year on December 2nd, Advent Sunday) to remember the patriarchs - people like Abraham, Moses and David, our ancestors in faith. The second week we light a new candle for the prophets - e.g. Elijah, Isaiah, Jeremiah - and for all people of vision throughout the ages. In the third week the new candle is for John the Baptist and for us to think about how we make ready for the coming of the Lord. The 4th candle is for the Virgin Mary, reminding us of those who have changed the world through dedication and self sacrifice. On Christmas Day we light the 5th candle as we rejoice that Christ is with us. After Christmas, on the 6th week, we light all the candles and give thanks that Christ has come as the Light of the World, to destroy the darkness, to open the way to eternal life for us and for all who are seeking the presence of Christ in their lives. I also light candles myself during Advent and if you wander up the vicarage drive in the evening you will see a candle burning in my office window.
Looking for a not too thought provoking book for Advent a few years ago I stumbled upon Do Nothing, Christmas is Coming by Stephen Cottrell the Bishop of Chelmsford.
It's an Advent calendar with a difference, full of sound advice and short practical steps that you can take each day to slow down, take time out and enjoy getting ready for Christmas. e.g. December 1st
- Prune your Christmas card list.
- At least make sure it's charity cards you buy.
- Help save the planet and send an email card with a note about which charity the money saved has been sent to.
- And with all the time you've saved, put your feet up for an hour! (© Stephen Cottrell)
I pray that you will have a relaxing, peaceful and love filled Christmas.
- February 2012
- March 2012
- April 2012
- May 2012
- June 2012
- July 2012
- August / September 2012
- October 2012
- November 2012
- December 2012
About the Vicar's Letter
The Vicar's Letter has been appearing in the villages Focus magazine since August 2002.
The Rev. Peter Graham also used to publish The Vicar's Letter in the parish magazine of 1964. Please see the Vicar's Letter area for these.