Jesus: the light of the world
25 December 2018 IN: Bishop
A few days ago, I was taking a Christmas assembly at a primary school in Heywood. It was nine o'clock on a gloomy December morning. We turned out the lights in the school hall, the better to see the words of our song on the projector screen. Suddenly, it felt like night had come back again. So after the song, I asked the children to imagine how it would be to live in a world without light. One young girl clearly had a very vivid imagination. She spoke of tripping and falling in the dark and breaking an arm or leg. Without lights, how would the ambulance get her to hospital? And when she got there, how would the doctors see her X Ray in a world of total darkness?
In that brief story, she had grasped two of the essential gifts light brings. It warns us of impending dangers, and it shows us the right direction to travel. St John, in his account of Jesus's life, doesn't describe the manger at Bethlehem, instead he speaks of the coming of Jesus into the world as like the arrival of a true light, a light that darkness will never obliterate.
I suspect that may be why, centuries ago, when early Christians fixed a date on which we would celebrate Jesus's birthday, they picked one close to the winter solstice. By mid December the days have been growing shorter and shorter, until it looks as though night might take over entirely. And then the direction changes, slowly night recedes and the days grows longer.
This Christmas, with that young girl's story in mind, I shall be grateful for the ways in which Jesus brings light into my life. How he gives direction and purpose to my existence, offers me an example of good and holy living, and helps me make fewer serious errors and mistakes than would otherwise be my lot. My prayer is that in this dark December, God will grant each and every one of us, a little extra Christmas light.