During this period of lock down I have been greatly moved by the love and care shown in the village. With neighbours checking in on each other and additional help being provided by our excellent Ovingdean C19 Action Group. In addition, church and community organisers have been working hard to move activities online and plan for Christmas celebrations, however these might be possible. A particularly moving highlight for me was Remembrance Day where, in line with government guidance, we gathered as a community on the village green, to show our respect and gratitude for of the fallen and to commit ourselves to the work of peace.
With the pandemic Christmas will be different for all of us this year and many of us will be painfully separated from family and friends. Despite this, there is a building sense of optimism that next year will be better. As I write this message I am listening to the radio, full of news regarding the possibility of a vaccine for Covid 19 and find myself full of hope and reflecting on these words from the closing scenes of a film I watched recently:
‘Darkness, the truest darkness is not the absence of light, it is the conviction that the light will never return. But the light always returns, to show us things familiar… home, family and things entirely new, or long overlooked. It shows us new possibilities and it then challenges us to pursue them….Hope is real’.
Even in better years we understand and celebrate this hope during the Advent season of December. The days are getting shorter, the nights are longer, it gets colder and life seems to have retreated behind thick bark, leafy soil and double-glazed windows. In the darkness of winter, we still have hope, we show this by putting up Christmas lights to brighten our surroundings, to remind us that spring will come, that life will return.
In much the same way, each year we place our faith in Jesus, the light of the world, who enters the darkness in order to be a strong ray of hope for each and every one of us, especially for those who are passing through difficult and despairing times. Advent is a season of expectation and preparation in the church where we celebrate that God loved the world so much, that he sent his Son to show us just how much he loves us, and through the vulnerable cry of a baby born into the humblest of circumstances, Gods nature was revealed and his voice of love was heard. Advent is our spiritual journey to discover that love and remember that hope.
To celebrate this hope we are planning as many Advent and Christmas services and activities as we can, in line with government restrictions, including the crib service and Midnight Mass and I look forward to seeing you at these if you are able to attend.
Finally, I wish you a very happy Christmas and a blessed and healthy New Year.
With love, Fr Richard