Mary and I recently enjoyed the ballet ‘Sleeping Beauty’, at Buxton Opera House. A magical tale where love overcomes evil.
We had a relaxing holiday, enjoying, in addition to the ballet, some of our favourite walks. As we left Derbyshire for home, autumn was fading. While only yesterday the sun shone, warming the air, today, all is grey; raindrops spatter the windows. The forecast is mixed, but winter is clearly coming. Not only the sky is grey; at every turn, voices speak of trouble and good news is difficult to find.
When darkness falls and winter presses in;
When peace, beauty, innocence give way to sin;
When troubles mount and evil seems to win;
It has been nearly three long years since we first heard of COVID 19; three years of problem upon problem. With apologies to the late Sir Edward Grey, it is as if the lamps have gone out, not just across Europe, but the whole world – and many are not expecting them lit again. Darkness dominates.
Last Sunday, as we marked Remembrance Day, in our Gospel (Luke 21:5 et seq) we heard Jesus’ speak of the coming destruction of the Jerusalem temple. Before that, Jerusalem was to witness darkness of another kind. At the hour of Jesus’ death, at the moment it seemed that evil really had won, the sun’s light failed (Lk 23:44-6) and the land was covered in darkness.
Darkness does not last forever. Day follows night and spring follows winter, yet neither can be hastened. Night time and winter alike are times not just of change but of renewal; we all need sleep. Even as Jesus spoke of coming tribulations, he added, by your endurance you will gain your soul. (Lk 2:19). The darkness of Good Friday gives way to the glorious light of the Resurrection.
It is not just in fairy tales that love conquers. Soon it will be Christmas; the birth of the Christ child. Unlike the fairy tale, the love of God doesn’t just arrive at the end of the story. God journeys with us through the darkness.
Rest, weary soul
and on this simple story ponder
Beauty only sleeps
Till wakened by Love’s wonder
Rev’d Philip Payne Last Sunday before Advent – Christ the King
The Notice Sheet for 20th November can be found here
‘The lamps ae going out all over Europe, and we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime’ attributed to Sir Edward Grey British Foreign Secretary, on the eve of the outbreak of WW1
 Original verse first shared in ‘From The Rectory – Recreation’, 6 November 22