Todays post comes from Graham Peacock. He writes a blog entitled wearily hopeful, which seems as good a title for this advent as any. GP has been a minister, a housing worker, a pantomime dame, a compulsive twitterer, a promoter of live music, a mental health chaplain and a cricketer whose enthusiam is totally out of proportion to his ability. I am also proud to call him my friend. We met on the internet, then (much to my kids consternation) in a coffee shop. He did not murder me though.
It was this time last Advent that I began to notice and welcome the lights in the darkness.
Prior to that I’d been a bit sniffy about what I saw as vulgar commercialism and garishness, but in 2020’s covid winter when all seemed without hope, the lights got through to me. It seemed that more and more people were putting up Christmas illuminations that winter. My village put on two advent windows every night for 24 nights. Some seemed thoughtful, some seemed tacky, but it didn’t matter to me- there was light and there was hope.
That sniffiness has not returned and so I wrote this; mainly to my snarky self of two or more years ago who just wanted to be different for the sake of it:-
Blessed are you who light sparkly lights and project strobe effects and moving snowflakes.
Blessed are you who teeter on unsuitable stepladders and fix wonky reindeers that cling unsteadily to the sides of your houses.
Blessed are you who put up the ‘Xmas’ signs and the improbably shaped illuminated Santas.
Blessed are you who interlace your hedges with flashing lights and with cheap, primary coloured elves.
Blessed are you who try and push back darkness with bargains from the middle aisle of Aldi that will end up in landfill by mid January, for you still make your street bright and make those who pass by smile.
But woe to you who sneer on twitter at the crassness of it all but do not respond in good grace.
Woe to you who post about your many & justified concerns but shed no actual light.
Woe to you whose hearts are full of anger that you call ‘righteous’, but have no sparkle.
Woe to you whose houses are ordered, tasteful & with instagram friendly decorations, but dark to the rainy streets.
Woe to you whose concerned frowns and desire for informed critique with like minded souls far outweighs your ability to take a risk and shine brightly.
Last year I bucked the habit of a lifetime and joined in; my contribution was very modest: a string of cheap white fairy lights that twinkled across the porch. Being part of this community of light at times made me at times very emotional.
These ‘Blessed’/ ‘woe’ sayings, are meant to be playful, to throw up questions and to make the reader think; they are not the ‘either/or’ of my evangelical beginnings where something was either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ . Yes, the multitude of plastic lights and improbable Santas may seem excessive sometimes, but they speak of the desire for light, playfulness and hope in ways that my apparent earnest concern rarely seems to do.
I’ve hung those lights again this week. I don’t think I’ll ever go as far as having a 3 metre high Santa festooned with lights on the side of where we live, but having some light up is something I’ll continue: sometimes you just have to join in and pierce the darkness.