Church of England
See A Great Light (03-01-23)
Follow The Star: An Invitation to See A Great Light
Today's reflection is written by Helen Dearnley, Anglican Chaplaincy Advisor for HM Prison and Probation Service
Where would you like to be this time next year? I'm guessing your answer to that question isn't ‘in prison’! However, that is where I hope still to be.
It's an incredible privilege to serve as a Prison Chaplain. Chaplains regularly see the potential for new beginnings for those in our care, and a hope that, though their pasts might have been in darkness, their futures can be so very different.
All of us have aspects of our past that I'm sure we would like to forget. I certainly do! However, simply forgetting the past will not allow for a different future. Understanding our past behaviours and learning from them allows us all an opportunity to change, if we wish to.
Bible Reading: Matthew 4:13-22
Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum, by the lake, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled, ‘Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali, on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the gentiles, the people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned.’
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, ‘Repent for the Kingdom of heaven has come near. As he walked by the sea of Galilee he saw two brothers Simon who is called Peter and Andrew his brother casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat, and their father, and followed him.
To ‘Follow the Star’ this Christmas season we might need to step away from our past behaviours, just as the first disciples do in our reading. To be willing, like them, to take the actions we need to give ourselves the future we hope for.
Following Christ’s call in this way is not necessarily about whole-life change, though it could be if we follow a new career path or invest more time in family and friends. But it can be much simpler, like choosing not to judge those who have made mistakes that have taken them to prison. Or finding it in our heart to forgive those who have grieved us personally.
To follow Christ is to find true freedom of heart and mind.
I invite you today to look at yourself in a new light, free from past mistakes, and with a future full of the hope that following Christ brings.
God of hope and new beginnings, show us this day, we pray, the freedom that comes from following your example.
The people that in darkness sat
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