Advent Reflections 2023: Day 13

Matthew 5:13-16

SALT and LIGHT are two aspects we are all familiar with in our world. The Advent theme for the Methodist Church this year, Out of the Ordinary, rings bells with me. When I was in Sector Ministry in the 1990s, working with homeless and distressed young people aged 16-25 in a northern town, I spent eight years working with some interesting and very challenging young people.

One young man Social Services said we could try and work with had had over 100 foster family placements behind him, and was a really troubled, aggressive and temperamental soul. The rubbished SALT of his life needed to be changed to a wonderful LIGHT. This would not be easy. But it was a challenge for my team of case workers, with a lot of prayer too.

It soon became clear that he was very disturbed indeed. We tried to get him to speak about his issues, but this did not work. So we encouraged him to draw. He painted very violent pictures that expressed a lot of pain. After some months of these paintings, he was asked what else he would like to paint, and he said he had always loved butterflies but had seen this as a weakness because of their beauty.

Now he started to paint pictures of the butterflies of the world, amazingly detailed pictures. He went on through the project and then out into the world as a painter of beauty and a real beacon of LIGHT. That person had walked through the SALT that was rubbish and into the LIGHT of beauty, finding a faith in the darkness – it was an amazing
spiritual journey.

Chris Cheeseman

Let us pray today for those who are struggling with being in foster care, or with homelessness, and who are not feeling part of anything that is special. We ask that this Advent will become special and meaningful to them. We pray for all people who are marginalised, not accepted for who they are, or not listened to. Amen.