The coming light

Every fortnight people from a farming background in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, or who have a heart for the countryside, offer a personal reflection on faith and rural life. They hope that you will be encouraged by it.

The last days of November can be a dark and dreary time for all of us.

The nights are long and the days short, the weather is cold and stormy. With the shortest day of the year still a month away, this can be a very bleak time as people leave home for work before it is light and don’t get home again until after dark.

On our farms there is a lot of hard work to be done. Livestock have to be looked after in an endless daily round of feeding and cleaning. On many farms there is the milking to be attended to and the calves to be fed. On others livestock of various kinds are being prepared for market.

The dark nights of winter can be a bleak time

One type of stock, which many of us don’t think about, are the turkeys that are being fattened for Christmas, with the added pressure this year of bird flu. Dark winter nights on the farm mean all the lights in the yards and buildings need to be working as well as those on the machinery being used each day.

Dark as this time of the year may be, this weekend brings a happy and bright event a little closer, for tomorrow is the first Sunday in Advent. It is the time of year when we look forward to the celebration of Christmas, and over the next four Sundays many of our churches will begin to mark the season right up to Christmas Day itself, which this year is a Sunday.

Advent points us forward to the time when we celebrate the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ into the world. In the darkest days of winter we celebrate the coming of the Light. In John’s Gospel we read these words, “The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world” (John 1:9). Jesus would later say of Himself, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12).

So what does this mean for us? When we switch on a light we see things as they really are. We see the good and the bad, the dilapidated state of an old building, or the splendour of a new one. We see things which we do not want to see as well as those we do.

As the Light of the World, Jesus reveals to us many things. He shows us ourselves as we really are. Jesus’ light shows the sin in our lives and our need of a Saviour. In the pure light of Jesus, our sins are revealed, with His holiness and purity standing in stark contrast to us.

The Light of the World reveals something else. Jesus shows us the great love which God has for each one of us. He lets us see that no matter how dark the stain of our sin may be, it can be completely removed by the blood which He shed on Calvary at the Cross. Jesus takes us from the darkness of sin into the light of the love of God. What we must do is confess our sin and trust in the Lord Jesus as our Saviour.

As Advent begins it reminds us that soon we will celebrate the coming of Jesus, who is the Light of the world. In these dark winter days may we each be reminded of the One whose coming gives light and life to all who trust in Him.

Rev David Reid is minister of Ardstraw and Douglas Presbyterian Churches in West Tyrone. He is married to Valerie and they have four children and three grandchildren. David was a full-time farmer for 18 years before being called to the Ministry.

If you would like to talk to someone about any of the issues raised in this article, please email Rev Kenny Hanna, PCI’s Rural Chaplain at [email protected] or call him on 07938 488 372.