Queen Elizabeth spoke on Christmas day of the world having to confront moments of darkness last year, but how the Gospel of John contains a verse of great hope, 'the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it'. She also referred to the old saying 'it is better to light a candle than curse the darkness', and went on to say 'there are millions of people lighting candles of hope in our world today. Christmas is a good time to be thankful for them, and for all that brings light to our lives'.
I want to give thanks for a babies' and toddlers' group in a church hall near my daughter's house. Paul and I were babysitting for a couple of days with our grandson, Joel, who is just 10 months old. It was freezing cold when we walked up the road for 20 minutes to this place, but what a warm welcome, both physical and spiritual, we received when we got there! It was an oasis of love, joy and peace in a cold, gloomy world.
The wonderful Christians running it, some ladies of retirement age and a young man working in the church as pastoral assistant, provide a modern, well equipped meeting place for parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents and babies. There are marvellous toys, refreshments and, best of all, a time of singing, and talking about God's love and a short prayer. And they only charge an entrance fee of £1 per family.
No wonder it was so popular, drawing about 20 babies and toddlers but many more adults. What a contrast to the depressing news we are saturated with in the media day after day!
I remember the time when I was a young first time mother, living thousands of miles away from family and not even having any friends during the week when my husband was at work. How great it would have been for me to go to such a group and not have to feel lonely and isolated.
The reason behind this group, and others like it, is to shine the light of Jesus for those who don't know Him, and to care for those who might need a supportive community and a place to belong. The sermon of the vicar on his website spoke of how God so loves the world and everybody in it, but that we can be in close intimate relationship with God as our Father.
Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, thank You for the millions of people in the world who are lighting candles of hope. Thank You that they shine in the darkness, bringing the warmth and beauty of Your love to a cold, dark world, in Jesus' name. Amen.
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