Dear All,

Arise, shine!   For your light has come,

And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.

Look! Darkness shall cover the earth,

And thick darkness cover the peoples; 

But the Lord will arise upon you, 

And His glory shall be seen upon you!

I don’t know whether every shepherd in Bethlehem in the days of Emperor Caesar Augustus knew these words from the prophet Isaiah.  If they did, whether they had any inkling that they might be fulfilled in their own time.  And if so, how many actually expected to be festooned with angels praising God on the hillside, declaring: ‘Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace…’

What about us?  When we gather on Frenchay Common on 20th December, or in the Parish Church the night before, will we know that God’s true light of hope is shining on us?  The last 2 years or so have been a time of trial.  This was the context into which Isaiah spoke 700 years before Christ.  Israel was in isolation and exile.  Are we feeling in a bit of a fog, while the pandemic panders on?

As the old carol, ‘God rest ye merry’ gives in refrain:  

O tidings of comfort and joy ! 

The light of hope is right in front of our eyes. Have we noticed?  To you and me, the Son of God has come, born of a virgin, wrapped in warm dry cloths, but lying in a manger.  Soon to be a refugee, having escaped a scene of terrible genocide, to live 30 years of relative obscurity in a town of little repute: Nazareth in Galilee.  And yet, he was and is the One.

The angels put on a great show at his curtain call on the Bethlehem hillside.  The shepherds went and looked into the matter. We have the events of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection faithfully recorded in the bible.  Yet have we, personally, realised our hope?  Has he ‘entered in’ to our lives? Check out https://hope.explo.red/   

Maybe see you on the Common or in church. Have a blessed Christmas. 

Rev Charles Sugden