By Andy Muckle, St George’s Crypt

On the 3rd December, Advent Sunday will mark the beginning of Advent. When I was in parish ministry, the evening of the first Sunday of Advent was when we gathered for the ‘darkness to light’ Advent Carol service. One of the most special moments was the passing of the light. The church would begin in complete darkness and slowly the light taken from the paschal candle would be spread through the church as (with extreme care!) we lit each other’s holding candles. The service was a fitting and beautiful way to mark the beginning of the four weeks before we rejoiced in the birth of Emmanuel – God with us. One question we might ask ourselves though, as we begin this Advent, is where do we see the light spreading before us in our lives?

Mary, Joseph and the donkey (don’t forget the ‘wee donkey’ – Line of Duty fans will recognise the reference!) travelled the perilous ninety miles of road through Palestine from Nazareth to Bethlehem. No doubt that journey would have been at times dark, disturbing and fraught with fear.

Yet whatever fears the road held, they were journeying from darkness to light, and towards the Word becoming flesh as God’s love found human form in the Christ child. Today I am very conscious as I write this that our sisters and brothers in the Holy Land, are journeying through their own night-time of fear as war rages around them. We hope and pray that whatever darkness this moment in history holds for them, they can see before them, albeit even dimly, the light of hope spreading before them, and that hope is Christ.