Advent – when light makes a difference in the dark

Each Sunday in Advent, we light a candle on our Advent wreath, flickering and shining their light into our churches and homes. As the evenings grow shorter, we can see the candles clearly. They appear brighter and more distinct to us the darker it becomes, and as nighttime falls, they appear quite brilliant in the inky surroundings, little beacons of light in a sea of darkness. And the light from a single candle can be seen from a great distance in total darkness.

According to scientific study, the human eye could detect the flicker of a candle in total darkness, with a direct line of sight, at 46km away, or 30 miles. It seems an impossible task for a tiny little flame to emit light that can be seen from that distance but it can. And the strange thing is that that little beam of light can be seen further the darker the world around it is. Truly light can cut through darkness, the light only becomes stronger the darker it gets.

In our day to day lives, it is all too easy to become a little down trodden, to become overwhelmed with our own worries and concerns. Yet we are not alone. If a small bulb or a candle can shine far out into the darkness, how much further can the light of Jesus’ love shine? As the mirrors of a lighthouse amplify and direct light into the darkness, so too can we take that light that Jesus brings to us and reflect it in how we live our lives and in how we share our lives with others, in how we treat others. In this season of Advent, we can reflect that light and that love into the darkest corners of our world. Jesus is the bearer of that light, his healing love is there for all, yet it is up to us to open the door and let it shine into our lives, into our world.

Rev Ross Styles

Grief at a time of Advent

Grief is never easy. But some times of the year it may be amplified. I have friends who recently lost people close to them. It’s hard to see their pain, and yet only by witnessing the pain – ours and someone else’s – will we find healing in it. 

Whether the loss was recent or from the years past, the closer we are to the season of Christmas the more painful some memories become. On the other hand, Advent in its gentleness, like candles lit in the dark nights, can provide a cloak of comfort. Advent is a season of gentle contrasts: darkness in which light comes, longing for hope into which hope is born, desire for peace that comes out a deep anguish and a need for change. It is Christ coming into our humanity, bringing us His light, hope, peace. But this coming comes softly, like the frost on the winter grass. 

If you are in a season of grief and if the pain of memory knocks on your door each morning, know there is nothing wrong with you. It is not only human, but also healthy to allow ourselves to feel all the nuances of emotion we experience. Grief is painful, but only by walking through it will darkness of the night lead us towards the dawn.

Often when we light a candle, its wax drips, like tears. Light a candle, sit next to it, and allow your emotions to surface. Weep if you feel like weeping. Know that God is with you. You are not alone. You are never alone. Let Him cradle you in His love, comfort you, love you. God can hear all your questions. He hears the screams of your pain, and screams of the silence of your heart. You are not alone.

Yet if you are well enough, but you know someone who is in pain: sit with them. Allow them to talk. Don’t be quick to offer answers. Dry their tears. Be there. Show them that God cares by you caring for them. And know that God will sit down with you. He will cradle you both in His gentle presence and lit your inner candles in these dark nights. 

Iva Beranek
Dr. Iva Beranek is the Ministry Facilitator for CMH:I