In an instant, the world around you is transformed. The sleepy browns and beiges awake to shimmering gold and bronze. The green grass glows as if lit from within, while the red bricks of the houses brighten from chestnut to crimson.
You lift your head as the grey sky above you becomes the backdrop to this technicolour display, its contrasting darkness making the colours shine brighter. You gaze, letting the light fill your eyes.
The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.
Why should Christmas bring hope? It comes around, year after year; we have seen the lights, heard the carols. Twenty, thirty, fifty times. Surely if anything was going to change, it would have changed by now. Yet still death haunts us, despair assails us, disasters appall us. Where now is the light, as the darkness presses in?
Yet still those first notes of the carols tug at our hearts.
Yet still the shining tree in a darkened room kindles a small glow inside.
Yet still we see a baby in a manger and remember: we are not alone.
And the light shines through the clouds.
...and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.