Pilgrimpace's Blog

advent journey – light in the darkness

We are reeling from the terrible news from Peshawar yesterday. 141 people, mostly children, slaughtered in an attack on a school.  Things don’t seem to have changed much since the massacre of the Holy Innocents in Bethlehem which the Church remembers each year on December 28th.  It is bleak and dark.  We are shocked, we doubt, we lament, we cry, we light candles.


As the news of this started to come through yesterday, I was in amongst it in one of those busy pre-Christmas days.  I spent the early afternoon helping at the Learning Disabilities Chaplaincy Christmas Service.  This is up the road at Monyhull.  This is special for many reasons.  There are strong links.  When St Bede’s were rebuilding after the fire, our congregation were welcomed in by the church made up of folk with learning disabilities and their carers and, for a few years, the two congregations were one.  My Grandad spent his life as Head Porter in a similar place.  It is wonderful to be with this Church and I have such a lot to learn there.  It was good to be joined by Bishop David who cemented his reputation there as the man who lies down in services.

The current austerity and attack on the NHS is in evidence though.  There were far fewer residents present than usual.  Many of the homes are now run by private companies, making it very hard for the Chaplaincy to work in a coherent way; staffing is cut to the bone; there are not enough staff to enable everyone who wants to to attend.  After Mass and carols we ate mince pies together.  I’m not sure if J. broke his record for eating them.

I was then kindly by Councillor Barry Henley to accompany Bishop David and Sior, the Chaplain, to Barry’s house where we joined in the lighting of the first candle of Hanukkah.  It was moving to reflect together on the meaning of this miracle against the background of the school massacre.  Light shone in the darkness; oppression is faced by justice and righteousness.  Some of these thoughts should be broadcast soon on Radio WM.


In the evening I went to Woodthorpe Junior and Infant School for their Christmas Concert.  It’s been wonderful to have a link with this school for many years.  I sat in a hall full of parents and grandparents as the children sang wonderfully Christmas songs.  This excitement and joy is a response to the darkness of terrorism.  Children and schools acting in the way they should so that children grow and flourish, learning practically to respect other people and value life.

The light shines in the darkness.