God sent His Son that we might no longer fear the dark
November 1st 2016
Around this time of the year I’m away from Rowley for 3 days – “on retreat” – something every Vicar is expected to do each year, and it doesn’t count as their holiday! It’s a time of stillness and prayer.
Last year I went to the Franciscan Monastery at Glasshampton, near Stourport, I was given a small room in a corridor, with a bed, desk, chair and wash basin. Everything is pretty basic: there’s no TV, Internet or mobile phone signal. The Monastery is up a ¾ mile rough track, seemingly in the middle of nowhere, it is very isolated, very quiet.
As you might expect the day is regulated by a bell which rings for the services in a simple chapel, and for silent meals in the Refectory (if you want salt or pepper you have to wait silently for someone to notice and pass it down!) And then, afterwards. You wash up!
Last year, on my first night, about 7pm, all the lights went out.
Following a storm the overhead power cable came down and the resulting power cut lasted 8 hours. I can vouch for that; I had forgotten to switch the light off and the bedroom was suddenly very bright at 3am.
Finding the chapel wasn’t very easy that night; I literally felt my way down a very dark corridor to say the church evening office of Compline by candlelight. This was an unforgettable experience and at the end of the service the monks gave us a small candle each to light our way to bed, not a lot of light and certainly not enough to read by, but sufficient not to get lost on the way back.
Candles are very powerful symbols of faith. We give godparents of a child a candle at baptism as we say “Shine as a light in the world, to the glory of God the Father.”
A candle is a delicate gentle light, that doesn’t force itself, but guides and reminds us of Jesus, the Light of the world.
In the coming months many candles will be lit. At our Annual Memorial Service as names are read, families wll step forward to light a small candle in memory of their loved ones. Approaching Christmas Candles will be lit around church as we sing carols, and at the end of the Christmas Season comes Candlemas (held in church January 29th) to remind us of Jesus taken to the Temple as a baby by Mary and Joseph, of his being recognised there as a Light to lighten the gentiles.
As we approach the holy season of Advent, you might like to think of lighting as candle at home; to remember a loved one as you say your prayers; as you think at Christmas of those who for whatever reason can’t be with you; and above all, to thank God for giving us His Son that we might not, any longer fear the dark.
With every good wish.