On commencing her training at theological college, Marketors’ Chaplain Canon Dr Alison Joyce found that fellow students would indulge in post-prandial party tricks. A particular favourite was to relocate a statue of “Henry Major” to unusual situations in the college.
In her virtual sermon for Advent Sunday, the first Sunday of the Church’s liturgical year, Alison revealed how this had impacted her.
At the end of her first term, students had left for the Christmas break, but she had to stay on for a tutorial. Leaving the tutor, she returned to her room, taking an unfamiliar route in the dark. Passing through a door she thought led to her wing, she was in a pitch black corridor. She heard in the distance an external door closing and she knew she was alone in the building. Frightened but feeling her way, she rounded a corner and found herself in the embrace of someone’s arms. It was Henry Major in a surplice!
A moment later, she saw a glimmer of light through a half-opened door and soon she knew where she was going.
Darkness, Alison says, is needed for sleep, rest and growth, but society is chronically sleep deprived. This is also true at a spiritual level – the Living God is found at times of deep darkness, when our distractions and delusions are stripped away.
Advent is an invitation to explore the darkness in our world, in our lives and within our hearts. 2020 has been very dark, but we’re discovering new things about ourselves and God – which helps us to grow.
In this season we’re preparing for the coming of the light of Christ – through a glimpse of a tiny child born in a stable. This fragment of Christmas hope is all the comfort and consolation we need to pass through the circling darkness, into His light.