Darkness to Light
As many of you know, since the first lockdown, in March 2020, I have walked for about an hour every morning before the working day begins. At the beginning of this year, as the cold of January gave way to February, then to March, I watched as the morning moved for darkness to light. Ten months on I wait for the dawn as I walk in the dark. I look for glimmers of light in the night sky as the light gradually builds until sunrise.
St James’ gardens look different in the darkness of daybreak. Objects, like trees, feel threatening, big and overpowering in the dark, and yet as the light dawns over the gardens the trees become beautiful objects full of colour and life.
This moving from darkness to light and then to darkness again reflects the daily rhythms of the lives of most people. We wake with the morning light and sleep when darkness comes. Much of our world is a fearful place and our future is unknown. The darkness of uncertainty is all around us, but there are also tiny points of light, small flickers of hope in the night.
This Sunday, the Cathedral will once again hold its Advent Service of Darkness to Light. We did not hold it last year because of lockdown and I missed the symbolism in the service. The service takes us through readings and prayers from darkness to the light of the promised Messiah.
The introduction to the order of service says:
Christ described himself as ‘the light of the world’. The service begins in darkness, but light will gradually fill the Cathedral as the procession moves from west to east, just as the Word of God brings light into our hearts and lives. Then, at the end of the service, the procession will return, symbolising Christ’s second coming.
Light plays an important symbol in the service. We begin in total darkness and, as we move through the Cathedral, more and more light is displayed through the candles that people hold and through the lighting in the Cathedral. The building gets transformed from an imposing dark structure to a warm, welcoming and engaging space.
There are times in our own lives when darkness overtakes us. It maybe that we are ill, it maybe the death of a loved one, or it may be the sheer challenges that life is giving us, but in that darkness there will be glimpses of light as people rally around to support us and care for us.
As Christians we believe that in the darkest of times the light of Christ will shine. We may not see it at the time of darkness, but, as we move form darkness to light, we will see the light of Christ as we look back.
So, as we begin our Advent Journey, let us pray and hold before God the darkness and let us hope and pray that the light of Christ will continue to shine.
For all information about the Advent and Christmas Services please go to https://www.liverpoolcathedral.org.uk/christmas