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HG Bishop Angaelos mentioned in Thought for the Day - BBC Radio 4


“This is the core of Christianity. Darkness into light. The brilliance at the end of the tunnel.” Anne Atkins 30/11/15

The cathedral was hushed in a vastness of pitch black. From so far away it was hard to believe we could quite hear it, a lone voice pricked the night. Come, Emmanuel: my favourite service of the year, the Advent carols. I was fortunate to hear it in Durham cathedral on Saturday, then King’s College Cambridge last night.

Dim distance and darkness.

Strange that this, most important of Christian festivals, is the one so neglected. We all know roughly when Lent is and many still observe it. At Easter we give children eggs, symbol of new life breaking out of captivity. We mock evil spirits at Hallowe’en.

But try exercising Advent abstinence over the next four weeks, through the mulled wine and Christmas carols prematurely trespassing on this most glorious of Christian seasons, and your friends will wonder at you.

Advent is unique. Other Jewish and Christian observances look to the past, for good reason. Judeo-Christianity is based on events which took place in history, with dates to them: by remembering prophesies already fulfilled, it’s possible to trust the one prophesy still to come.
Advent is the only one which looks to the future, to a far better time than this.

Last week Bishop Angaelos of the Coptic Orthodox Church, commenting at the Church of England Synod on the dreadful migration crisis in the Middle East, suggested that a dire situation can present “a wonderful opportunity, because there is no greater place for light than in the most abject darkness… we are here as that light and that hope…” The denser the darkness we walk in, the greater the light we will see.

We live in dismal days, in many ways. Parents so desperate for a future they lose their children in the sea. Young men so wanting glory they blow their own lives away as well as others’. Protestors ahead of the United Nations climate change conference starting today, wondering whether the leaders can deliver this time. Wars and rumours of wars.

Why look forward to Christmas, when beyond the glittering tinsel will be more of the same? And what for those who don’t even want that, having lost loved ones or hit hard times so Christmas only brings sorrow? We fumble in the night, sometimes unable to see anything to walk towards or hear any voice calling at all.

Christmas tells us God came to Earth, Easter that He gave up His life. It is Advent which declares this darkness will not be the end. That one day, the King will return. The world will be made anew. Everlasting joy will be on our heads: sorrow and sighing will flee away.

The Advent choir progresses from shadowy West into radiant East, a symbol of the future. This is the core of Christianity. Darkness into light. The brilliance at the end of the tunnel.

This is not the end of the story.

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