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St George’s News - Waterlooville’s Parish Magazine

The Website for St George’s Church, Waterlooville and its Parish Magazine St George’s News

Christmas 2018 issue

From the Vicar, Fr Dr Colin Lawlor

One of my favourite novels is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings – I read it for the first time as a schoolboy, and have read it several times since. Like any really good work of fiction, no matter how many times you read it you will still discover something new, a layer of meaning that you had not encountered before (I loved the Peter Jackson films too)!

On the surface of it Tolkien’s masterpiece is an epic tale of good against evil. The hobbit, Frodo Baggins, has a magic ring – but this is not just any magic ring, this was created by the evil lord Sauron in the Land of Mordor – it is the one ring ‘to rule them all’, and Sauron wants it back in order to rule Middle Earth.

The darkness of war and oppression are always in the background, and Frodo’s task is to take the ring to Mordor where it can be destroyed once and for all, so that light, peace and freedom can endure.

Tolkien wrote his work at a time in history in which people had experienced the horror of World War One, the ending of which, 100 years ago, we have recently been reflecting on. Tolkien himself had served in that war and had lost all but one of his best friends. It was in the 1930’s when economic depression and mass unemployment were a reality, and the fear of another war all too real. Although Tolkien denied that his work was in anyway allegorical there can be little doubt that the world in which he lived, a world which in many ways appeared ‘dark’ must have had some influence on his writing – he acknowledged as much himself when he said that an author cannot be unaffected by his experience.

During this past year it is not difficult for us to understand something of the darkness of the world in which Tolkien wrote his novel, and indeed of that which threatens the peaceful shire in Middle Earth where Frodo lives.

For many people the times we live in are dark indeed.

The rumour and reality of War which is all too real in our world today. Poverty, hunger and homelessness. Political uncertainty, economic crisis, unemployment and fear of unemployment.

Tolkien’s masterpiece is an epic of biblical proportions and it almost reads like the story of the Old Testament – the Israelites seemingly as insignificant as hobbits, living in a world of oppression and darkness, and yet called to be the instrument of God’s will – a God who promises to bring light out of darkness.

And it is this theme of darkness and light that is at the heart of the Christmas story for Christians. In Churches during the season of Advent, the weeks leading up to Christmas, the biblical readings are often about a time of calamity and the promise of peace and redemption.  We hear from the ancient prophets, often writing in times of darkness, but looking forward to a time of light and peace, a time when the poor will be treated with righteousness and the wolf will lie down with the lamb. And this, for Christians, is at the heart of the Christmas event. In the birth of the Christ child God has entered into the human arena, into the darkness and messiness of human existence, but promising the possibility of light and peace for those who put their trust in him.

I wish you a very happy, blessed and light-filled Christmas.

Fr Colin