Here we are, second day of Advent, a word that translates as the coming arrival of a notable person.

For us as Christians that notable person is Our Saviour.

It’s not Christmas yet so we have brought out our Advent wreaths to light a candle that signifies

“Jesus is the light that shone on everyone…” (John 1:16)

We’ve hung some lights around our living room,

and will be putting out the creches, when I can remember where I’ve put all the components,

the travelling Mary and Joseph,

the watching shepherds on a hill,

the journeying wisemen from afar,

and the baby Jesus, safely tucked away in a drawer…somewhereI

Many’s the year Hubs has had to come up with a makeshift replacement for Christmas Day when someone cannily hid the child only to forget where!

Our theme for this week is Hope.

In our world of spiritual and emotional darkness, even a glimmer of light gives hope.

“The people who walked in darkness has seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” Isaiah’s prophesy and promise in chapter 9:2 gave the people hope in their day.

Let me tell you about an encounter with deep darkness.

Years ago in London Hubs and I toured a series of tunnels and caves in Chiselhurst, London.  Used as an air-raid shelter during the war and later as a mushroom farm, these caves are now open for tours…

We were lit along the way and were cautioned not to wander off the beaten track but to stay with our guide.  There were 22 miles of hidden darkness and we covered one of them.

We were told that a murder was committed there in the mid 1800’s and the body disposed of in an underground pool.  Rewards have been offered for anyone brave enough to spend a whole night in the vicinity, with no illumination.  Only one person has done so apparently, most of the contestants call for help after 20 minutes.

I would too, the darkness, as we soon discovered, is profound.

At one juncture, to prove his point, our guide told us to turn off our phones and he extinguished all the hand held lanterns and walked away.

I could see nothing, not even my hand in front of my face.  The feelings I had were claustrophobic, disorienting and frightening.  The ceiling was high but I couldn’t see how high and all I could feel was a sense of pressing down, a burden.

My imagination ran away with me and terror started to creep in, my chest grew heavy and my breathing laboured.

After a bit I heard the sound of a clap of hands, immediately a sense of depth occurred and my head involuntarily turned towards the noise.  Then I saw our guide walking towards us with a pinprick of light and I could begin to distinguish shapes and my breath became easier.

“How long do you think I was away?” he asked.

“30 minutes,

“10 minutes,


Came the guesses.

He was gone 2 minutes.  We had lost all sense of time because there was nothing to relate to.

Darkness is like that.  It removes us from reality.

Because of the first Christmas we have more than a promise of light.

We have the “light (that) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)


And His name is, “Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)

As I walk around the stores buying groceries I am bludgeoned by a Christmas shrouded in darkness and empty promises.

It’s bright everywhere with all the coloured lights, tinselled and baubled trees, snowmen, red and green cookies and candles, sweaters with elves and reindeer, presents for him and her, spend spend to make you and yours happy!

Gifts wrapped in coloured paper promising happiness, comfort and joy.

Not a sign of the creche, the reason for the season.

And astonishingly this isn’t exclusive to the 21st century.

In a correspondence C.S.Lewis writes a hurried line…

“… to tell a story which puts the contrast between our Feast of the Nativity and all this ghastly ‘Xmas’ racket at its lowest. My brother heard a woman on a bus say, as the bus passed a church with a crib outside it … ‘They bring religion into everything. Look, they’re dragging it even into Christmas now’.” (from his personal correspondence 1950’s)

This first week of Advent is finding me hanging little lights around my living room that will come on in the darkness and remind me of the hope I have in Jesus as the light of the world.




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