The end of the year finds us a little travel-weary. We began with such high hopes (many of which have been realised), we had great ambition (and we invested a lot of energy into achieving this), resolutions were made and broken and real life took over. Now we are facing the beginning of Advent, leading up to the arrival of “God with us” in the form of the baby Jesus.
Christmas time is synonymous with hot summer days, wild thunderstorms, long holidays and a welcome break from routine as well as the gathering of family and friends to celebrate. It can be a rather bitter-sweet time though as we recall those who have died or who have moved far away and will not be physically present this year. The annual Service of Remembrance acknowledges that God is with us in the midst of our pain.
This year we spent time examining Psalms 23 and 139. Both are songs that remind us that we have a loving God who has taken great delight in our creation and loves to be a part of all of our life journey, from ‘quiet waters’ through the ‘valley of the shadow of death’. He is ahead of us, behind us and knows everything we are going to think or say, even before we do ourselves. This is true for us as we struggle through daily choices, and it is also true for those who have died or who have moved far away.
As a sign of surrendering our feelings of pain and loss and our distant loved ones to God, who is infinitely more qualified to deal with them, we lit tea lights from a larger, central candle, representing God’s light and presence.