The New Room is sharing a Friday reflection each week. We hope that these short reflections will act as a point of spiritual focus, enabling a moment of quiet thought and prayer.
This week’s Friday Reflection is from Gary Best. Gary is the Historical Consultant at the New Room and a former Warden. He was the Headmaster of Kingswood School for 21 years and lives in Bath.
I wonder if you have heard the old joke about what one snowflake said to another snowflake who was confused about what it should be doing? It said: ‘Stick with me, and pretty soon you’ll get the drift’. Unfortunately, trying to make each generation get the drift of the Christmas message has never been an easy process. That’s partly because we so often obscure it with all our festive arrangements. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve no desire to do away with Father Christmas or any of the other traditional features of Christmas celebrations. They bring joy to many, especially children. However, we have to remember such activities are essentially just the trappings of Christmas. If they become our only focus then any festive joy we experience will inevitably be short-lived. D.H. Lawrence in his novel ‘The Rainbow’ wrote:
‘After Christmas, the ecstasy slowly sank and changed…The heart that was big with joy, that had seen the star and had followed to the inner walls of the Nativity, that had swooned in the great light, must now feel the light slowly withdrawing, a shadow falling, darkening. The chill crept in…and all was darkness’.
That need not be the case. I once came across a very unusual letter that had been written by a young child to Santa Instead of containing a list of wanted presents it simply said this:
‘Dear Santa, You don’t have to give me anything for Christmas Day. Just leave me something for all the other days.’
Christmas should leave us with something for all the other days.The light that shines in the darkness is not restricted to Christmas any more than Christ’s birth is restricted to a tiny stable in Bethlehem two thousand years ago. Each day Christ can be born in our hearts, transforming our lives for the better.
A number of people feel that the Covid restrictions have created an opportunity for us all to properly reflect on what really matters in our lives – both the good things that we so often take for granted and the bad things that we would love to see change. So, whatever the restrictions imposed on our Christmas festivities this year, I hope this Advent we will let create the time to properly reflect on Christ’s vision of a future world in which peace will triumph, racial hatreds will cease, and the cruel gap between rich and poor will be no more. That would truly be a great new ‘normal’. One worth praying for.
Father, as we begin this month to celebrate the coming of your Son, we pray for
health enough to enable us to do the things that matter;
wealth enough to support our needs;
strength enough to battle with difficulties and overcome them;
grace enough to confess our sins and to help us improve;
patience enough to work so that good things happen;
charity enough to see some good in our neighbour;
faith enough to make the real the things of God;
hope enough to remove all anxious fear regarding the future
We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.