29th November 2021

It has always seemed self-evident to me that a Christian should keep up with the news in order to know how to pray for the world, but I hope I’m not the only one who has struggled recently with the overwhelming nature, not just of the 24-hour news cycle, but of the news itself. Dire warnings about the very future of our planet; the devastating loss of life in the English Channel; a new Covid variant: we can feel utterly helpless in the face of all this, and the temptation is sometimes simply to turn the TV or radio off. When will we finally get some good news?

Advent, of course, is a time when we wait intently for the good news of Christ’s arrival in the world, and recent events have brought back forcibly the words of a favourite Advent hymn, Henry Burton’s ‘There’s a light upon the mountain’. The first verse evokes a state which I suspect is familiar to many of us just now: ‘Weary was our heart with waiting / And the night watch seemed so long’. But my favourite lines in the hymn – usually underscored in Tyndale’s renditions by Dave’s snare drum – are in the penultimate verse: ‘For the drumbeats of his army / Are the heartbeats of our love’. We cannot just listen for the ‘distant music’ of Christ’s triumph song, we are an integral part of it. So ‘let us not become weary in doing good’ (Galatians 6:9), so that we may be at least a small part of that good news for the world.

Powerful Poetry: There’s a Light upon the Mountains – Henry Burton (finestofthewheat.org)

Debbie Pinfold