Carols by Glow-light – Dampier 2018

Good evening everybody and welcome to the 2018 Carols by Glow-light, here by the sea in beautiful Dampier. How very blessed we are to live in this amazing place, and to have the privilege of living is such a safe and prosperous country.

It is wonderful to see so many people here this evening in what has become one of the firm favourites on the Karratha Social Calendar and I would like to acknowledge the Yaburarra and Ngarluma peoples, on whose land we are celebrating tonight.

Carols by Glow-light, is of course our Pilbara interpretation of Carols by Candlelight – of which there are many considered origins. But one surely has to be related to the four candles of Advent. Advent is the four-week period before Christmas, when a candle is lit every Sunday. It is that time of expectant waiting for Christmas.

The four candles lit on the four Sundays before Christmas can be considered to represent stages in the coming of Jesus. The first can be thought of as Hope; the second, Faith; the third, Joy; and the fourth representing the announcement of Christ’s Birth – love.

I would like to speak about hope this evening and I am indebted to Anne Lamott for her thoughts on hope in National Geographic recently.

Life often seems to have no hope: we see violence everywhere – on the news, on TV, on our streets, sometimes even in our homes. We see wars and suffering all over the planet: bombing, maiming, torturing. We see disregard for the health of our environment, disregard for the rights of others, children on the streets, drug addiction, youth suicide…. It is tempting to think we are doomed or there are evil people who need to be punished or eliminated.

But neither of these is true: the truth is, that through the workings of love, through the good will of ordinary people, together we can make a difference and heal the world.

The priest who helped establish Alcoholics Anonymous, some 80 years ago said: “Sometimes I have to believe that heaven is just a new pair of glasses”.

When I see the enthusiastic and dedicated young people, of today trying their best to make a real difference, I see through that new pair of glasses.

Like a friend of mine from Engineers Without Borders, who as a person in his early 20s worked for years in the high reaches of the Himalaya, installing solar lighting to the stone huts of shepherds on the barren mountainsides of Nepal. Or the young volunteers of World Vision, the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Caritas, Care, Oxfam - risking their lives in some of the most war-torn and disease-ridden parts of the world, caring for people in Uganda, Yemen, Gaza and the victims of the earthquake, tsunami and liquefaction that has devastated Sulawesi.

People looking not for money or career advancement, but simply to help, to be part of the solution and not the problem.

When you look through the right glasses, there is goodness and hope everywhere.

And so it is with the coming of Christmas, the celebration of the birth of Jesus, when the fourth candle of love is lit and hope springs anew. It is with love and abundant joy that tonight, we are able to celebrate this long standing annual festive occasion in the safety and beauty of our town and country, to contemplate the beautiful and wonderful things in life and perhaps what we can do to be part of the solution.