Monday 28 September 2020

Thought for the month

From the Rector
Thought for the Month November 2017

As we have many Chinese friends, for some years now we have celebrated Chinese New Year – I love cooking Chinese dishes. This year, since we have had two very enjoyable holidays in India and love that country, we decided we would celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights. When we last went to India, our wonderful driver took us round Jaipur on the evening of the festival. So we decided to celebrate Diwali at home. We put up some of our Christmas lights, scattered around the room, fake candles which changed colour, around the room and displayed photographs of India including the Taj Mahal. This time Margaret did the cooking – she makes some delicious Indian dishes.

The Hindu religion has many Gods, the chief of which are Brahma, the creator, Vishnu, the preserver and Shiva, the destroyer. I couldn’t really celebrate a festival which worships other gods so I Christianised the meal by having a lighted candle in front of the words of Jesus, “I am the light of the world”. Was this cheating? No because I was following an ancient Christian tradition. No one knows when Jesus was actually born so the early church decided to celebrate his birth on the December 25th, to “Christianise” a Roman winter solstice festival. Some people today want to go back to the Roman idea, renaming Christmas “Winterfest” – God forbid!

It’s not just Jesus who emphasises that He is the light of the world. St. John at the beginning of his Gospel, often read on Christmas Day, speaks of Jesus as “the light which has come into the world.” Simeon, when he sees the baby Jesus in the temple says he is “a light to lighten the Gentiles. And in our church, at the Christingle service, the light of the candle stands for Jesus while the Paschal Candle, lit every Sunday, again shows that Jesus is the true light.

So what did Jesus mean when he very emphatically said “I – I am the light of the world”? He is light in three different ways. First, his teaching is a light to the way in which we should live. Just as a torch lights up our path in the darkness, so His teaching guides us in right and loving ways. Second, He shows us that life has a purpose. Quite a few people who have had near death experiences, say they have seen a great light at the end of a tunnel. We are destined to become members of the glory of heaven and Jesus has shown us the way. And third Jesus can be our light here and now - often in our prayers and worship, sometimes in times of real darkness. I have experienced darkness, but I try to put my trust in Jesus, and the darkness has been banished. Sometimes this has happened straight away, more often over a period of time and I know He has been with me.

The Indian festival, Diwali, celebrates the triumph of light over darkness. But Christmas truly celebrates God’s triumph over the darkness of this world. Jesus, the light of the world, was born. And He is the light which can light up my path and your path.

Colin Hurford