The Revd Canon Dr Elizabeth Thomson writes…

The light comes back

The earth tilts on its axis and the year turns. We are past the winter solstice. Even though the mornings go on getting darker for a couple of weeks, the light is stretching out and the days are a few tiny seonds longer. ‘In the mid-midwinter,’ writes the Scottish poet Liz Lochhead, when everything is bleak, even so

the light comes back
the light always comes back.

Christmas has come and the light is here. The carol services, modern or ancient, hesitant or triumphant, hyper-organised or slightly incoherent, candlelit or floodlit, have all proclaimed it: ‘the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.’ And now in the church year the season of Epiphany offers us time to take in the light, to blink, to look again, to learn to see. An epiphany is a moment of realisation, when something begins to sink in. Christ is born! we have all sung, and now we begin to look at that light and the state of the world it dawns in. 

The world’s school report at the end of 2019 was not good reading. Peace: shows no willingness to put in the effort demanded and is constantly distracted by rumours of wars. Truth: although this concept has been clearly explained, the world keeps finding ways to avoid it. Health: a very worrying tendency to overheat. Overall, could do better.

So it’s bleak and there’s a lot of darkness around. But the light shines in the darkness. Epiphany gives us time to think about that. The wise men come following a star and we see how Herod reacts to a threat to his political power. Jesus is baptised among a crowd of people coming out from the city to try to put their lives right. The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminds us of our capacity to disagree about God’s good news. Through all this, through the complexity of working out that good news in the world and through our ability to get it wrong, the light goes on shining. 

The light, in Lochhead’s poem, is out there, gathering, strengthening, working its way towards us who are still in the dark of winter. ‘The light always comes back’: 

there will be the winter moon for us to love the longest,
fat in the frosty sky among the sharpest stars,
and lines of old songs we can’t remember
why we know
or when first we heard them
will aye come back
once in a blue moon to us

and bless us with their long-travelled light.


Revd Canon Dr Elizabeth Thomson

Acting Dean of Derby

Bishop Libby Writes...

Bishop Libby 3 1500 72 20181215Easter Season, between Eater Sunday and Pentecost, is our time to discover what it means in practice to be a resurrection people. 

The consequences of Covid-19 continue to shape our lives. As we think about resurfacing from ‘lockdown’, we begin to weigh up the far-reaching costs of this pandemic. 

For many those costs will be deeply personal: mourning loved ones, and coming to terms with having been unable to say those goodbyes as we would have wished; coping with real financial difficulty, from redundancy, loss of income, business collapse – perhaps for the first time; recognising the trauma of working through a health and social crisis on the front line; suffering abuse without respite. 

And all of us will face the wider implications: readjusting after the kind of social upheaval not previously seen in peacetime; long term impacts on budgets – from domestic to global, different expectations of government at every level, changes in ways of working, the shifting of focus and priorities.

The Church, our diocese, our congregations, schools and communities – as well as every household and individual within them – will be affected. We have important contributions to make to what comes next. We have a unique perspective, drawn from experience across every aspect of life, the lessons we have learnt. We also have a vital role in responding to continuing need and offering support. 

Everything may have changed – but everything stays the same. We seek first the Kingdom of God; as we pray, learn, tell and serve, we offer good news - being deeply rooted and generously fruitful; we work so that our communities are transformed for good, that we each grow in confidence as disciples of Jesus, that our congregations flourish.

In this Easter season, ‘Alleluia’ is our refrain. ‘Alleluia’ is not blind to reality but deeply rooted in it. Easter day is only possible after Good Friday. Not that we praise God for pain and uncertainty, but somehow despite it. This may not feel possible for some of us individually some of the time. And that’s OK. We are the Body of Christ together. We weep with those who weep, and sometimes the tune of our ‘Alleluia’ song is a lament. But still we sing. For the Easter story is the ultimate reminder that love conquers all - and nothing, nothing, can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus.

‘Alleluia. Christ is risen. He is risen indeed. Alleluia.’

The Diocese of Derby

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