At this time, every year, we hear these words: ‘The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light’. Familiar words indeed, and easily left unheeded. But this year the darkness is more immediate, more encircling. Knowing the darkness helps us to appreciate the light.

In the darkness of this pandemic so many of our comfortable assumptions are being shaken. Here we are, celebrating Christmas, yet deprived of the greetings, hugs, kisses, and handshakes that normally fill this day. We are living in a time in which the loneliness that some always feel at Christmas is painfully touching so many. Family bonds are being tested by these restrictions; those in hospital and care homes long to see their loved ones, with a pain that cannot be eased. Some, I believe, fade away from sheer loneliness. The darkness is deep.

Yet light penetrates this present darkness. Have we not seen these months of difficulty marked by countless acts of random kindness, quiet heroism, selfless service, remarkable community efforts, all directed towards those most in need? In our nature, in our make-up, there is an indomitable spirit of goodness that responds with sacrifice and love. It is the spark of the divine within us, the sense of a life in essence never private but shared with others, with the whole of creation.

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