Revd Dr Rae Caro

The Curate Writes

Saturday 22nd December 2018

The Light Shines in the Darkness

In our house, the build up to this Christmas has been like no other. For me, Christmas Day not only marks the birth of Jesus Christ but also my final day before maternity leave. As a result Advent I have felt a strange parallel, waiting expectantly for Jesus but also waiting expectantly for the birth of my own child. I have been reflecting on how pregnancy is one of the many ways that God expresses the promise of a new and different world and how Mary’s growing bump was a physical sign of prophecy soon to be fulfilled. I am not the only one who has noticed the similarity. Many people have joked at the possibility of a Vicar of Dibley-style nativity with the real life birth of a baby in the performance!

Of course, though it has been fun to daydream and joke about the similarities, it has highlighted the very large differences. The events of Christmas are so beyond our day to day experiences and yet unite us all. For one, the Christ-child is born for each of us, regardless of our life stage, health or choices. It is a birth experience that binds all of humanity with God because Jesus came to live a human life. Every time I am tempted to feel sorry for myself and my increasing tiredness, I remember the 70 mile journey completed by the Holy Couple during the final stages of pregnancy. I am completely in awe of the strength of Mary. The demands on her spiritually, physically and emotionally far exceed what most of us can imagine. Too add to what modern standards would deem a traumatic birth, the family become refugees. Perhaps the only people who can really give us an insight into the courage and grace of Mary are the thousands of women who give birth as refugees every year.

We are free to acknowledge the grittiness of Christmas because it can help us to understand that despite whatever our individual circumstances, God’s love is more powerful. Jesus' life began in the most humble of surroundings where it would have been easy to give in to fear and hopelessness but because of his drawing close to live as one of us, we are all saved. The hope, life and light that the birth of Jesus represents to us are eternal and unconquerable. As John's gospel reminds us, "The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it".

Christmas is about more than the birth of a baby. It is the reminder that Jesus' light shines for every single person. It is not dependent on being naughty or nice. True Christmas light will not fail if we can’t afford our electricity bills. Jesus will shine for us always, even if we feel we have nothing to give in return. The Christ-light is with us always, even when we ourselves have been overtaken by the darkness, Jesus has not.

Merry Christmas!