The weeks leading up to Christmas in the Christian calendar are known as Advent, from the latin ‘adventus’ meaning ‘coming’. A time of preparation and expectation as we wait for the coming of Jesus born in a stable on Christmas Day. It’s a bit like waiting for a glimpse of light from the stable as we look up to what is ahead. It’s also about how we live in the here and now and what we hope for.
Whether this is our faith or not, as we look up and look around us in the world, it can sometimes feel a struggle to see glimpses of light. Instead we can often see only darkness and feel helpless by what is around us.
Helpless for the young lives lost to violence, helpless for the lives of refugees lost in the Channel, helpless as people of all faiths are persecuted for what they believe in. The emerging new coronavirus variant is causing anxiety and fear, and the impact on the NHS and the health and well-being of many can feel worrisome. At times it can be a struggle to see a glimpse of light to look towards.
But perhaps the biggest challenge for us as we look around, is whether we can be a glimpse of light to others. As individuals this may just feel too big, but when we join forces with others we create a brighter light for others to glimpse as we speak up and name some of the worries we feel, some of the inequalities in our world.
Recently the Sustainable Harborough Community organised an event for the Global Day of Action about the injustice of global warming. This gave many the opportunity to make a stand on this important issue as COP26 was taking place. Last Saturday in a perishing wind, the local Mothers' Union gathered to support 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Both of these and many other examples shine a glimpse of light and give hope.
Another way this Advent to bring a glimpse of light and hope to others is by putting together a Reverse Advent Calendar – a way of giving rather than receiving. Many charities encourage this as a way of giving by putting an item in to a box each day during Advent as a way of donating food items, baby basics, or hygiene products.
In a very dark place just a little light can be seen from a long way away. So as we look towards Christmas, as we prepare for the coming season, let’s look for glimpses of light in the here and now, and let’s look for opportunities to be that glimpse of light for others who can’t glimpse that light for themselves.
Revd. Alison Iliffe is Team Vicar in the Harborough Anglican Team with responsibility for the Parish of the Transfiguration: St Hugh, Northampton Road and St Nicholas, Little Bowden.