Starting Here, Starting Now…

 6 February 2022 |

Still with a week to go before the beginning of February and on the day I write this item, I saw my first snowdrops and primroses this year. They immediately lifted my spirits. Gradually, it is noticeable the evenings are beginning to arrive a wee bit earlier than a month ago; it’s still another two weeks before sunset comes at 5 but in other parts of the world – in the far north, up by the artic regions, where it got dark at the end of October – the coming days will see the start of light returning, very gradually on the horizon. This time of the year always offers hope that even though winter still haunts us with its cold and lack of light, there are signs the earth is turning and Spring is not that far away.

In terms of the Church year, we are on a journey from Epiphany at the beginning of January to Lent at the start of March, a period of what is known as “Ordinary Time”, a time to pause and reflect as well as get excited about what the journey supplies. It’s a time to set annual agendas and discover what drove Jesus into his ministry. We travel with Luke’s Gospel, in the main, and explore the crucial moments that frame that ministry and how Luke sets out Jesus’ priorities. Out of the darkness of winter we see emerging again the full character and personhood of Jesus, a figure not unknown to us, but also revealing aspects we hadn’t seen before – at least that is the hope as Christ engages in new ways with our modern world. In my mind it provokes that familiar quote from Albert Schweitzer: “He comes to us as one unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, he came to those men who knew him not. He speaks to us the same words: “follow thou me!” and sets us to the tasks which he has to fulfil for our time. He commands. And to those who obey him, whether they be wise or simple, he will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in his fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience who he is.”

In the third episode of David Attenborough’s magnificent new series, The Green Planet, he introduces us to the necessary fire that some plants endure only to rebirth. The wild fires creates such devastation and is a fierce enemy to anyone close by, leaving the land a grey desert of ash and smoke. Like winter itself, the remains of this frightening and dangerous fire, look lifeless and dead. Can anything still be alive? From this episode, the BBC website presents this synopsis: “The South African Cape is coloured by millions of flowers, all competing for pollinators. A huge summer fire wipes the land clean, but it’s not a disaster for everything. A new shoot appears through the blackened earth – the Fire Lily, which hasn’t flowered since the last fire 15 years ago. It emerges into a world with no competitors at all.” (

Like the snowdrops against the winter soil and the blazing red of the Fire Lily against the blackened earth, Jesus comes to us often from the dark moments of life to greet us, to embrace us, to comfort us and, on occasions, to challenge us. Life can be hard and difficult, full of stresses and strains, but from that darkness and negativity we can be surprised perhaps that God breaks forth into the world and, in his son, offers love and meaning. In these winter months, I hope you recognise the Christ coming to you from our deepest and darkest moments.