Starry nights – or finding the light

Isaiah 9 v 2-3 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. They lived in a land of shadows, but now light is shining on them. You have given them great joy O Lord. You have made them happy.

John 8 v 12 I am the light of the world” said Jesus. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life and will never walk in darkness.”

I’ve always lived in town conurbations – new towns, – cities- and smaller towns too. Holidays were an opportunity to do something different or see something new. When the grandchildren were younger we had many caravan holidays, sometimes in the West Country, usually Devon or Cornwall. sometimes in Wales.

I love the summer evenings. Sea air has a distinctive aura. It smells fresh and healthy. As the sun sinks below the horizon the sky deepens and you can look up to see see myriads of stars beginning to light the sky – reaching to the meeting point of the sea and the sky. I’d think back to the last time I’d seen a beautiful sunset. None of them seemed quite so expansive and so beautiful as those night skies we had on the Somerset coast.

2020 has seemed like the darkest of nights. No big weddings. Limited guests at funerals. Families separated at the time of a loved ones passing – no opportunity to say “I love you” or to say”Goodbye” at the time of passing – cruel twist of fate.

This last year has been spent in the city. Not only have we been living at home – we’ve been restricted to our house for a good part of the time. So the horizon has not been where the sea meets the sky but where the sky meets the rooftops and the streetlights. The evenings are spent looking up to the haze where electric merges with God’s great expanse. God’s great light hidden by city pollution.

It’s been like that through much of this last year. There has been some much loss and grief due to the pandemic. So much has changed, so many losses of freedom . Who would have thought at the beginning of the year that we would frown at those who greeted one another with a kiss or a hug? Who would have thought that we would be wearing a mask when we went out of the house? And that we had to keep our distance from our friends and family to keep them safe? That I would not go shopping with a friend or family for fear they might contract the dreaded Covid? So many of us have been living in darkness trying to find those pinpoints of light which give us hope.

Yes, there have been chinks of hope. Our NHS have been lifesavers, working long and exhausting hours to care for our sick, at times putting their own health at risk. There have been friends who’ve called, notes popped through the door. Facebook, Zoom and all of those electronic forms of communication. The incredible brains and the volunteers working at breakneck speed to produce vaccines. Through all the struggles and the heart breaks there has been a ray of light shining through.

Isaiah offered words of comfort to a struggling people. “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light” and “You have given the people joy”

“I am the light of the world” said Jesus. “Whoever follows me will have the light of life” There have been troubles and disasters, wars, plagues, poverty and struggles going on since time began. God has been there walking with the people of history despite the dark times and difficulties in which they lived. He walks with us too. “Look up my children. Seek the light…..your God walks with you,

Lord God of hope we come to you in our time of darkness. We come thinking of our loved ones We come with our fears and anxieties. Ours is a world of shadows and darkness. We look up and through our tears and our fears we can see nothing through the lights of our cities, the bright lights of this world. Your lights dazzling brightness is hidden from us. Teach us to look beyond the light of this world to your everlasting light. Teach us to see hope in each other and in the hope you have given us. You Lord have the everlasting hope of this world and you are our everlasting light. In Jesus we pray, Amen

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