It’s really winter now. I am a teacher, and the hardest thing about this time of year is that I find myself in the dark quite a lot. When I leave for work, it’s dark and when I come home from work, it’s dark again. There is one good thing though – I get to see the sun rise almost every day. In the time it takes me to go from my house to school, the sun comes up, and because I am travelling south-east, I get a really good view.
There are some days, those dreary, cloudy days, when the sun never seems to come up. I drive to work and it doesn’t seem to be much lighter when I arrive than when I left. This week I have started to notice something though. When I get to work, I can see the colours of the cars in a way that I couldn’t when I left home. This reminds me that even though it seems bleak and dreary and dark, there is light shining somewhere.
Because the sun is always there, isn’t it? There are just some times of the year when is seems that it isn’t.
There’s a place in Norway called Tromso. It’s not the most northern town in the world (so some people have a worse deal than this), but the last time they saw a sunrise was 26th November. The sun rose at 11:04, and went down again at 11:58. That’s 54 minutes of daylight. The next time they will see a sunrise will be January 15th 2018, when the sun will rise at 11:26 and set at 12:22 – a whole 56 minutes of daylight!
So it seems very sensible that we celebrate Christmas in the middle of the dark season of winter. Christmas is all about light – lights are everywhere! We’ve invested in some new fairy lights to brighten up our hallway this year and the combined effect of 20m of LED lights actually is a bit more than I bargained for!
Last Christmas, Grace Church Lincoln celebrated our first Christingle – a celebration of light in darkness. The Christingle comes from a church in Moravia in the Czech Republic and started about 250 years ago. The Christingle orange was given to children to give them a picture of what Christmas was really all about.
The orange is the WORLD, the 4 sticks represent North South East and West, the treats represent the fruits of the seasons, Spring, Summer Autumn and Winter. The red band and the candle are the most important parts though. The red band is a symbol of the love of God which is enough to go around the whole world. It’s red to symbolise Jesus’s blood because the best way that God showed his love for us was to send Jesus to be born in a stable so that he could grow up and become a perfect man and die on a cross.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
Jesus died and bled so that we could be friends with God again. The Christmas story is just chapter 1 of a much longer book, and so for Christians, we can’t think about the baby in the manger, without also thinking about the man on the cross.
So what about the candle? Well, Jesus is the light of the world. In his own words he says: “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
I can’t imagine what it is like for the people of Tromso through December – it must be a very difficult month living without light. It must feel at times like the sun will never rise again! Can you imagine how much celebration greets that first sunrise in January?
In this season of darkness, we have a celebration that brings us hope. Christmas is our time to remember that a light for the whole world has come. A light that brings life, and hope and colour even in the darkest of places. And what is even better, the darkness of winter will never put out the light of Jesus… not even in a place like Tromso.
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:4
The world is a very uncertain place, and can seem very dark a lot of the time, but as celebrate Christmas and turn on our fairy lights, let’s make sure we take a moment to think about that little baby, born in a manger whose birth was signalled with the light of a star, and the glorious light of an angel choir singing in the night to let the whole world know that their light has come.
Transforming Hearts for Christ, to Transform Hearts In All Generations