Yesterday evening lots of churches were holding carol services - "Carols by Candlelight" plus/minus evangelistic message plus/minus refreshments - and that it good.
The last few weeks have been demanding and difficult for many of the folk who take a leading role in our usual shared, choral service of lessons and carols. Several folk are recently bereaved and still grieving; others have faced, and continue to face, huge challenges; all of us are all too aware of the troubled world of which we are part.
So it was a privilege to sit down with A just over a week ago to pull together "something" out of which "A Quiet Christmas" was born.
We dimmed the lights as best we could, lit loads of candles, sat in a circle and shared in some poems and songs, topped and tailed by Isaiah's 'people who walked in darkness" and Revelation's "no more death or tears".
For some, tears flowed. For others the stillness gave space to reflect. For many there was a sense of rightness and, in some small measure, release.
In the hours before the service, I had made time to think back over my own year, to recognise and name those things for which I had yet to grieve... the strange grief of a TAH & BSO that only someone who has been there can understand (I certainly didn't)... the grief for and on behalf of my mother no longer able to sustain independent living and forced to move into care... the grief for my favourite uncle who died in May... the grief of packing up and clearing out my Mum's flat and leaving, finally, all tangible, physical links with my childhood... the grief for friends who died... the grief of losing one of my 'Spice' (minister's wives) albeit at the age of 102... the grief of watching others grieve, whether for loved ones or for their loved church... So it was good to pause, recognise and name those things, and in the naming to (start to) let them go.
As the writer of John said so eloquently: the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not understood or overcome it.