Jenny’s letter 10th December

Dear Friends,

It has been very cold and quite dark during the mornings and the evenings. I used to find this time of year especially difficult but two different things changed the way that I see things. First, I learnt to drive during the winter and realised that, once Christmas is past, we already begin to see the evenings getting much lighter. That lightness heralded the coming of spring. Walking in our churchyard reminds me of this, as first the snowdrops and then the crocuses begin to show their heads amid frost and snow. 

The second and more powerful change came when I read an article which was about Advent as a time of hope. A time when we wait for the light to shine in the darkness. Whereas, I had thought of this time of year as my least favourite months, the writer viewed things very differently. We do look forward in this season to the remembrance of the birth of Jesus in the stable but, as Christians, we look so much more to the second coming of Christ.

By making a conscious and deliberate effort to view things differently I have retrained my brain so that it does not despair about the shortening days but seeks comfort in the darkness. I don’t look to the end of the year as a time to be anxious about what is to come but, instead, look to the possibility that comes with a new opportunity. Above all, I feel hope. Faith gives us a special kind of hope. A sure and certain hope. Hebrews 6.19 (ERV) speaks of a hope that is ‘like an anchor for us. It is strong and sure and keeps us safe.’ 

Whatever is happening in your life at the moment, I pray that you will be able to share in this hope. Proverbs 3.5 tells us to ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding.’ This is a challenge. It requires effort and practice. Human nature finds trusting in self so much easier. When that fails, because we all fall short (Romans 3.23), then we are left to weather the storms of life with neither anchor nor mooring.  

One of the best things about meeting together as church is that you have others with whom you can walk in the way of Christ. Though I know many people who claim to know God and don’t visit church, it is easy to fall into hopelessness without the support of others. Meeting together is part of being a disciple. It’s why coffee between services is important together with the worship that we do before and after on a Sunday. We are stronger together – even those of us who are introverts and find social chitchat difficult. Just as Jesus offers to carry our burdens alongside us (Matthew 11,28-30) so we, conforming to his likeness, bear the burdens of one another. None of this means we will feel happy all the time. Happy is often something reserved for Christmas movies. The sense that we need to be happy at Christmas can rob us of the true hope that comes to us as we journey through Advent and draw closer to the God in whose image we are created. 

One of the blessings set out in Church of England liturgy begins like this. ‘The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing. When we turn to Christ, even though for some that may seem difficult, we find what we are really looking for. A deep joy that is much more than happy. A deep peace which the world cannot give to us. 

Wishing you every blessing during this advent season,

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