This is the last column written by Ronald Clarke for Anglican Life; it appeared in the December 2021 print issue of the paper.
Ronald Clarke was a columnist for Anglican Life for many years, and his column was always a favourite part of the paper for its readers. We all felt inspired by his example of faith. As he wrote in this column, we need to “block out the noise and focus on God’s Light—his son, Our Saviour, Jesus Christ.” We will all miss Ronald Clarke, and we send condolences to his family. May he rest in peace and rise in glory.
All over the world, Christians begin preparing for the birth of Christ four Sundays before Christmas Eve. The four Sundays of Advent give Christians a wonderful build up to the most amazing event—the birth of Jesus Christ. Each Sunday during Advent, a candle is lit to represent the light of God coming into the world. With each passing Sunday the light expands, until finally on Christmas Eve, all four Advent candles are lit, and then the Christ candle is lit as well. So much light coming from the candles, representing the light of God coming down to earth and shining for those who believe.
As a child, candles were costly and not used often in our homes. Most light came from kerosene lamps which buzzed and gave off a black smoke when lit. The smell was chemical and not a very pleasant experience, but one that everyone came to get used to. In comparison, the candles that were lit in the church during Advent seemed to just give off a radiant light. There wasn’t a sound or a smell, just a beautiful glow. As a child I felt that glow and looked forward to the Sundays to come and the glow to get brighter. By Christmas Eve, our church seemed to be lit like the day—all from five candles. It was magical when I was a boy, and even now the lighting of the candles during Advent holds a special in my heart, and it’s part of the Christmas joy I still have.
The light of the world came down to earth that night in the form of the Son of God. God didn’t come to the world in a bolt of lightning to frighten his believers. God sent his son as a baby—a helpless child who needed so much support and care. God’s new Light of the World was a small child, a small spark, which would go on to burn brighter than any star in the heavens. Jesus as a baby was similar to that first candle lit for Advent. Jesus began as a small light, but held within him the hopes of the world. Jesus, as we know, grew to be a man who changed our world and the lives of many millions of Christians around the world. The joy that began with Jesus’ birth spread around the world and continues to light up darkness in our world. Without the hope and joy of the birth of Jesus Christ many people would be in darkness and lost to God’s great and everlasting love.
This year, I would like Christians to think about the Light of the World, especially on Christmas Eve. Try to let go of all the trials and tribulations we have been through lately and focus on that light—which is in everyone’s life—you just need to block out the noise and focus on God’s Light—his son, Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Happy Birthday Jesus! We are so glad you were born to lighten our world.
Merry Christmas to each and every one of you this blessed season!