Advent Prayers, 13 December
Mission work in Newtoft
God has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge
of the Glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
(from 2 Corinthians 4.6)
Today is St Lucia’s day: a feast day in the Nordic Churches and in churches dedicated to Lucia around the world (not least in Dembleby). The celebrations for St Lucia’s day are varied, but the central focus is always the procession of light. Young girls in white dresses carry candles through the dark, following Lucia (Saint Lucy) who wears a wreath of candles on her head. The procession is quite beautiful, and it is easy to be sentimental about candle-lit children. But Lucy herself was more stubborn than sweet. It is worth remembering her story.
Lucy lived at the turn of the fourth century – a time when Christians were persecuted for their faith. She came from a non-Christian family, and was assumed to be pagan – which meant she could move freely to care for the Christians in hiding. She would walk each day through the long dark catacombs wearing candles on her head, both hands filled with food.
Her mother wanted her to marry – a nice pagan boy from a suitable family. Lucy wanted none of it. She renounced marriage and wealth so she could continue her candle-lit walks. Her mother eventually gave in to her wishes (a miraculous healing may have helped), but the young man was furious and he exposed Lucy’s faith.
The governor’s humour was cruel. He sentenced young Lucy to a brothel, where her dreams and her vows would lie dead. Lucy refused to go and was so stubborn about it that neither the Roman Legion nor a team of oxen could get her to budge. So they built a fire around her and sentenced her to death. Lucy refused to burn. They poked her eyes out – yet Lucy was said to see. Finally, they pierced her throat, and Lucy did give way. But her story lived on, to be ornamented down through the centuries.
Lucy is a pleasing sort of saint: a saint for food-givers and head-torch wearers, stubborn types, and those who dare suffer for their faith. But her story began simply enough. People were hungry and she brought them food. People were fearful and she brought them light.
Today we pray for outreach work that is taking place in Newtoft. Pray that all those involved will be light-bearers in the dark places of this world, so that through their work and through their relationships God’s glory will be revealed.
the original post is here.