The village in which I spent much of my childhood is in a remote part of County Durham in the north of England, Fr Ian writes. It stands about 1,000ft above sea level and in winter it can be very bleak, and often snow bound. The clear, fresh air attracted some who had breathing difficulties to retire there. I remember a retired priest and a retired colonel moving into the village for health reasons.
One day in early January, as a boy in his early teens, I went to the village post office to buy some stamps. In fact the village post office was a room in Mr and Mrs Rutter’s house converted to serve as a post office. Mrs Rutter was ever a reliable source of information on village life. That day as I entered I saw Colonel Nattrass seated at the counter, he was resting, catching his breath before walking home.
He began a conversation with me, ‘What would you like to do?’ he asked. I replied ‘I’d like to be a priest, Colonel,’ I replied. He gave an encouraging smile and reminded me of the coming Feast of Epiphany and talked of the star in the skies which guided the wise men to Bethlehem. ‘They kept their eyes fixed on the star, through all the ups and downs of their lives’ he remarked, ‘You have a star to follow. Fix your eyes on it and travel safely.’ I have never forgotten that moment, it was a significant event for me, and the image remains with me.
‘Christ,’ the Venerable Bede says, ‘is the morning star ..who brings the promise of life and opens everlasting day.’ Star of wonder, star of light, indeed!
Christ is the radiant light of God’s glory and the perfect copy of God’s nature, sustaining the universe… (Hebrews 1.3)
As we begin a New Year we look forward in hope, we look out for wonder and light, we follow the radiant light of God’s glory.