Look for the light at the end of the tunnel – Archbishop’s Christmas message
At times that challenge us, often leaving us, anxious, uncertain and fearful for the future, hoping for better things is not an unusual thing to do. In doing this, we sometimes focus on and hold on to glimmers of hope, finding them both precious and strengthening. We can express this by saying that we see light at the end of the tunnel.
A few months ago, my phone pinged a reminder that it was 10 years ago that a real-life drama about a very dark tunnel, which resonated with many families in Wales, unfolded in Chile. Some of you will remember the desperate plight of 33 men lost underground in a very deep, dark mine. Mining is part of our history in Wales, so this dramatic event touched many hearts and minds. Those miners were in the deepest darkness that we might be able to imagine. But thanks to human ingenuity, patience, skill, love and bravery, plans were formed and carried out that enabled them to be rescued. They emerged from that deep darkness into the light - light they probably thought they would never see again.
In today’s world, many have direct experience, not of the deep, physical darkness that engulfed those miners, but of a spiritual and emotional darkness, the personal darkness and anxiety of continuing change and chance. Obviously, COVID19 is among the primary reasons for this, but there are so many others such as poverty, hunger, persecution, prejudice and intolerance. All of these, along with many other examples of suffering and need, are the cause of our brothers and sisters in the world-wide human family being shut in dark places. So, it’s important and good for us always to remember that, however dark the tunnel may be, there can always be light somewhere to look for, to hold onto, to grasp hold of and to shine. Human beings, at their best, care deeply and do lovingly.
The Christian message of Christmas - in fact it’s the Christian message of the whole year, but particularly sensed at Christmas - is of light breaking into the darkness. The evangelist John, in the wonderful opening verses of his version of the Gospel, speaks of a light coming into the world, a light that no darkness can overcome. It’s the light of perfect, Jesus-like, love. And all of us are called to welcome that light, model that love, and to be agents of both for others through our kindness, our generosity, our compassion, and our care and ingenuity.
In Wales, we have just been told that we will be going into another lockdown and this will have alarmed lots of us and, maybe, made us think that the light at the end of the tunnel, that we thought was there, isn’t actually there at all, or is certainly not shining as brightly as it might. So, all of us need to pull together and look, not to the gloom, but to the light, and recognise that positive steps are being taken. Through human ingenuity, human compassion and the very best of human nature, progress is being made. And, although there are ups and downs and bumps along the way, we will come out of this and, as we wait to do so, the Lord Jesus would want us to be both thoughtful, patient and careful, and, when we can, also to be active as agents of the light, the love, the support, the compassion he would show for others.
In 2020, we approach a very different Christmas season, one that is going to be more confined than we had hoped it might be. Let us try our utmost to be positive, to be patient and, even if we face difficulties that we never imagined we would face, to exercise a real deep-seated belief that there is light at the end of the tunnel into which we will emerge.
I wish you a peaceful, a hopeful and a light-filled Christmas. Please do all you can to bring that peace, that hope and that light to others as well.