|Rembrandt's 'the stoning of St Stephen', 1625|
The alternative track moves us from the celebration of the baby in the manger to the slaughter of the innocents by Herod.
Slaughter of the Innocents - Duccio Di Buoninsegna
It is odd timing.
and definitely discombobulating.
Through Advent the build up of hope, the sense of expectation, of light in the darkness - of light defeating the darkness - led us to that blazing star hovering over a stable in Bethlehem. Choruses of angels proclaimed the birth of the Messiah; shepherds and sages looked upon the baby with wonder.
For a brief moment in time, the light shone and fearful hearts were cheered.
And then, in a fingersnap of time, the darkness seemed to descend again.
Is that it?
It feels a little like the police officer who tells onlookers:
'move along now, nothing here to see.'
Perhaps this is where faith comes into play?
We move from darkness to light to darkness.
Perhaps the glimpses of light are like stepping stones of hope along the way, that keep the fires of faith burning: sometimes a flicker, sometimes a steadier, brighter flame.
We move from darkness to light to darkness... but we do come back to light, and therein is the hope, the faith, that this is not all there is:
the light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it.