5th Jan 2012

Dear Friends - December 2011

By Andy Jarvis

Dear Friends,

One of the first readings we hear each Christmas is Isaiah's prophecy of the coming of a Son and the coming of light into a dark world. Isa 9:2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Jesus describes himself as 'the Light of the World" in John 8:12. Indeed, John presented Jesus as "The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world." John 1:9
Ralph Waldo Emerson, a radical American writer and thinker of the 19th Century, was asked what we would do if the stars came out only once every thousand years. He replied;
“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!”
Paul Hawken, commenting on this said; "No-one would sleep that night. New religions would be created overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Sadly, the stars come out every night and we watch television."
There's a sense in which the coming of Christ was just such a revelation. Angels were filled with joy. Shepherds were amazed. Nobody slept and Magi came to worship, creating a new religion. There's also the sad reality that Christmas happens every year and most people spend, eat, drink and watch television. So the question for us is why don't they see the light?
Having described himself as the light of the world, Jesus says to His disciples, "You are the light of the world." Wow. God's light is in us. Paul helps us to understand this in his letter to the Corinthians:
"For God, who said, Let light shine out of darkness, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ." 2Cor 4:6. How do we let that light shine? Matthew says, "Let your light so shine that they may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven". Matt 5:16. Interestingly, it is not our restraint, the things we don't do or don't say that shine, but the God-glorifying good things we do that shine.
 I was intrigued to read a piece about fireflies and glow worms - neither flies nor worms, but two stages in the life cycle of a beetle - that the light produced by them is created when oxygen combines with a substance called luciferin in the presence of the enzyme luciferase, in special cells called photocytes. What an unexpected name? Are these substances so named because the light they produce looks like the real thing but isn't?
As Christmas comes again, we long for people to see the light of Christ. Let us not think that like the firefly, we shine by self-polishing with the false light of avoiding all the Christmas vices. Instead, let us in humble obedience, do God-glorifying good. Then His light will shine in us.
I pray that people will see the light and that God shines in all of us.
with love,


Andy was a schoolteacher for eleven years before training for ministry, while based on a large council estate just outside Portsmouth. Originally from Brighton, Andy has been the Minister at South Molton Baptist Church since 2001. He is married to Helen and has three children and a granddaughter.