Join the protest!
I always feel that this time of year marks the beginning of a kind of huge protest. All around our housing estates colourful lights appear, festooning usually sober house fronts, and shops and shopping centres become great beacons of colourful light, in sharp contrast with the dull grey cold drabness of these December days. It's right that we should protest against the creeping darkness that envelops us with inch by inch stealth until it peaks on December 22nd. There's something about darkness that we humans naturally abhor, and coupled with the plunge in temperature, it tends to drag our mood down too. Colourful lights and Christmas trees always seem to me as a sign or our refusal to give-in, a shout of protest and of hope, while nature does its worst.
For Christian believers of course these weeks are much more than a cry of protest, they are a celebration of joy. These four weeks of December, known as Advent in church terms, offer a time and an opportunity to reflect anew on 'The light that the darkness could not overcome' (John 1:5)
The light that Christ's coming brings to the earth is not something that shines for December alone and is packed into boxes in the attic for the rest of the year, no, it is a light that guides us in all the moments of our lives, when we embrace it in true welcome.
These four weeks of Advent challenge us to find time amid the frenzy that the build up to Christmas brings, to reflect quietly on the meaning of it all.
The birth of Christ is something that happened in history a long time ago, and generations before us have faithfully passed on that living light through the millennia to our present age. Each year, Advent invites us to renew our faith in that central mystery, and in turn to become the 'passers-on' to those coming after us.
Winter will pass, the darkness will yield to spring light, colour will return to what seems a dull and drab December landscape, for thus is God's wonderful creation. Darkness to light, new life from death. He spells it out quite clearly.
So join the protest. But keep in the mind the mystery at the heart of it all. An Advent and Christmas without Christ is all too much like 'Hamlet without the Prince'.
Parish Priest St. Mary's & St. Patrick's Lucan