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By Phillip Breden

Isaiah 12: 2-6

The seasons have changed. We have moved from the crisp end of summer through the colourful splendour of autumn, and now winter is very much on its way—if not already here, as we have had very cold and icy weather lately. As if a foreshadow of emotions to come, Halloween the other week brought feelings of excitement and fear. There are the excited kids running around in their costumes and trick or treating, and some adults dress up and have their fun. But there is also the spooky side, with horror movies and a sense of otherworldliness. During this time of the year, the days are getting increasingly shorter, nights are becoming longer and longer, and all around us we are noticing the plants are dying off and animals disappear as they head into hibernation or are less active. It only comes natural to many of us that our thoughts start to dwell on those things, either very much in the forefront of our minds or lurking somewhere in the back. While some of us may have high spirits at this time of year, looking forward to Halloween and Christmas and enjoying the festive time of the year with family and friends, many are affected by the encroaching darkness. This darkness and lack of light can lead to fear. Fear of the unknown and fear of death itself. This season can be a somber and potent reminder of our mortal journey and what lies at the end of it. This can be a really challenging time of year for our emotions and mental health.

So, naturally people fight back. They must overcome the darkness. Replace it with bright light and joyous times. Many cultures over the world have had their ways of fighting off the darkness and fighting their fears of this time. The Celts fought against the darkening days by having a celebration of lights on the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year, to cheer themselves up and look forward to the lengthening days. They would decorate trees with wonderful lights, and their homes with evergreens. To the early Christians, the idea of lights at this time of the year resonated with them, as they saw Jesus as the light of the world. So, bringing lights into the darkest t