Last week I travelled to the Midlands for meetings in Birmingham. Walking through the centre later in the day I appreciated the lights and colour and smell of the German market. It was great to see families browsing, eating, drinking and laughing. It was also very good to hear German stallholders enjoying theirBrummie customers.
Three preachers at the bottom of the street braved the cold to proclaim: We are here because of the birthday of Jesus Christ. Don’t forget the message at heart of Christmas. Don’t get lost in all of this frenzy of consumerism.
I wasn’t around long enough to judge whether their bold declarations made any difference to the crowds.
But I did reflect on how the power and agency and love of a positive and affirming approach can convey a message better than a negative and denouncing one. Withoutdevaluing those who want passionately to share something of the hope and light of God with others – I was reminded that showing what this means is always better than shouting. We bear witness by the kind of people we are and are becoming more powerfully than a multitude of words.
I suspect that in this run-up to the Christmas season – for Christians it’s Advent – most of you know what it is really all about.
Some will find your way into churches to express your spiritual selves in prayer and wonder and music. You don’t need to be reminded that we are more than just material beings – that all of us need to find space to nourish the human spirit as we say at Sarum College.
Two pointers for a deeper experience of Advent.
Rediscover your hopeful selves by nurturing gratitude. Count the reasons to be thankful – the security of our homes, good work colleagues, the beauty of the world around us, those who have shown us kindness. All these and more are reasons to be hopeful. Perhaps each of us may resolve to do something that might give others firmer confidence for hope.
Second, light a candle at home or in a church as a sign of prayer for someone or something that is concerning you. These are particularly uncertain times. Most of us will have had points of hardship or upset this year. We will know people for whom this season will be painful or lonely. Many will not know peace and comfort. Light a candle for them. Let us each make a protest against the darkness.
May the coming days bring you and those you love both hope and light. Be that hope for others. Be the light that will empower us to turn the darkness into light!
Principal Sarum College
(first published in the Salisbury Journal)