Light travels at three hundred million meters a second – that’s pretty fast! Sometimes the Christmas flurry feels like it’s going even faster.* Yet we can use candle light for a wonderful ‘slowing down’ spot for children and adults alike. Try it at a Bible study or for a pause in a youth group, or in a quiet church service.
Light a candle, or perhaps an advent ring, and sit quietly watching the flame for a couple of minutes. Consciously lay aside your busyness and worries, your ‘to do’ list and your concerns. Imagine placing them in a box at your feet. You can take them up again when you leave, but for the moment they can wait quietly.
Slowly read the poem, pausing at each verse to consider the Advent themes of Hope, Love, Joy and Peace.
Afterwards, you may like to respond by drawing, writing or some other creative means, or simply by talking or sitting at peace with God.
Then take up the items you left in the box and walk back into your busyness, taking the light with you.
by Sam Goodman
Long ago was born the hope
On a cold and bitter night
Strength to help the whole world cope
Came as a single flickering light
Into our lives the gift of love
So pure and perfect in our sight
A gift to us from heaven above
In darkness came a fragile light
Into despair a sense of joy
And angels singing in the heights
God’s Son, a helpless baby boy
Became our beacon and our light
With the hope there came a peace
A chance to set the world aright
A call to make all battles cease
Hope, love, joy, peace in one true light
Babies can be tricky little blighters. Ever tried dressing one? It can be like trying to wrangle a squid into a net bag. Arms and legs everywhere!
And so small! Tiny fingers, tiny toes, unbelievably small fingernails – they seem so fragile. I can remember the first time I held my new baby to bathe her. She was so delicate and vulnerable, and so darned slippery! It is amazing that something so weak and small can be the strongest love and the biggest adventure of our lives, turning our whole world upside down.
Mary and Elizabeth sensed that both of their babies would do exactly that – turn the world upside down – but not just their worlds, the worlds of all people through all time!
Jesus’ light shines still. Born at Christmas as a flickering, fragile light, it grew to a mighty beacon that shines ever in hope, love, joy and peace – our one true light that shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot put it out.
Luke 1:39-55 New Testament for Everyone
Mary got up then and there, and went in excitement to the hill country of Judaea. She went into Zechariah’s house, and greeted Elisabeth. When Elisabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby gave a leap in her womb. Elisabeth was filled with the holy spirit, and shouted at the top of her voice: ‘Of all women, you’re the blessed one! And the fruit of your womb – he’s blessed, too! Why should this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? Look – when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the child in my womb gave a great leap for joy! A blessing on you, for believing that what the Lord said to you would come true!’
‘My soul declares that the Lord is great,
my spirit exults in my saviour, my God.
He saw his servant-girl in her humility;
from now, I’ll be blessed by all peoples to come.
The Powerful One, whose name is Holy,
has done great things for me, for me.
His mercy extends from father to son,
from mother to daughter for those who fear him.
Powerful things he has done with his arm:
he routed the arrogant through their own cunning.
Down from their thrones he hurled the rulers,
up from the earth he raised the humble.
The hungry he filled with the fat of the land,
but the rich he sent off with nothing to eat.
He has rescued his servant, Israel his child,
because he remembered his mercy of old,
just as he said to our long-ago ancestors –
Abraham and his descendants for ever.’
New Testament for Everyone
Scripture quotations from The New Testament for Everyone are copyright © Nicholas Thomas Wright 2011.
© Sam Goodman 06/12/2015
Reproduced with permission
* Faster-than-light travel should be impossible.
Unless you’re neutrino.
Milk travels faster than light because it’s ‘past-your-eyes’ before you see it. Boom boom!