All I want for Christmas is… Hope
Jane Clamp brings us words of encouragement as we light candles to herald the imminent arrival of Christmas.
At 4 o’clock on Christmas Eve, the bells in the tower overhead began to chime and the electric lights were extinguished. The packed congregation of the village church gasped as it was plunged into darkness. The vicar’s voice intoned Isaiah’s familiar words: “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death, a light has dawned.” No sooner had he finished than a candle was lit. Then another, and another until the place was filled with the light of their fragile flickerings.
We celebrate the birth of Jesus at the darkest point of the bleakest season. When nature is dormant and barren around us, we turn our focus to the moment in history when Life-in-all-its-fulness entered the universe. While we can only marvel in our imaginations at how the world came into being at God’s word, it is as nothing compared to when The Word Himself entered our human realm.
Creation had been glorious but ultimately flawed. Redemption, meanwhile, encapsulates hope – hope of restoration, of salvation, of re-connection with the God who loves us. No wonder the angels sang their hearts out as the shepherds watched, wide-eyed and slack-jawed!
For me, the two inextricably-connected elements of any Christmas season are light and hope. It is in deep darkness that even the tiniest of lights burn brightly. Hope does that, too. In times of dark despair, when all we can see in front of us is the brick wall of relationship failure or ill-health or loss and grief, hope puts a ladder against it and beckons us across. It shines a beam onto the path – however unclear it appears – and enables us to take one more step. When we fear that we will end up in quick-sand, hope proves to be a solid rock beneath our feet.
I’m just coming out of a difficult dental episode. Months of pain culminated in an extraction which in turn led to infection and more agony. Reaching out for support within an online prayer group, one lady wrote this: “Praying for you, Jane. It will ease and God is alongside you as you experience your pain.” Those words switched something on inside me: hope. That’s all it was. I still had all the pain and uncertainty but these words were a candle offered into my darkness and they lifted me.
If Christmas this year is a tricky one; if celebrating feels the last thing on your mind, do keep hold of hope. Light a candle. Decorate the darkness. These difficulties will pass, but the Light of the World remains.
I pray that you have a peaceful, blessed Christmas.
Jane Clamp is the author of Too Soon, a devotional on the subject of miscarriage, published by SPCK in August 2018. A member of the Association of Christian Writers, she writes for local and national radio. In her spare time she is an interior designer and musician.
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