Winter can be a challenge time of year for many people. We caught up with Rev Al Weir, minister at Dunrossness BC to find out how the dark winter months affect the community in Shetland and the parallel between spiritual darkness and the light and hope of Jesus.
Shetland is the most northerly group of islands in Scotland and is known for its rugged and beautiful coastline. During the summer months the island enjoys around-the-clock light with the ‘Simmer Dim’ twilight effect around midnight. However, during winter, the opposite takes place with less than 6 hours of sunlight per day.
For many, this time of year presents challenges for those who suffer from mental health problems, the elderly and those who live by themselves. Loneliness and the feeling of isolation can be a real problem. The church as a whole plays a part in the community by providing various services such as community cafes, lunch clubs and other groups which greatly enhance the lives of the vulnerable.
Shetland is a caring community, with deep Christian roots and yet of the 23,000 people on the island, the challenge of reaching out into scattered communities is ever present. The prayer of the church would be that a hunger for the ‘spiritual’ would increase, with the spiritual darkness only being illuminated in the person of Jesus Christ, and that the buildings where the church gather would become places of sanctuary, healing and the light on top of a hill.
Once a year at ‘Up Helly Aa’, Shetland celebrates its Viking past with torch-lit processions and the burning of a galley. This light festival illuminates the streets of the towns where the events take place which quite simply and beautifully illustrates the Christian message of being lights shining in the darkness.
In the year 2020, we are able to look forward with 20/20 vision because in Christ we are not alone in the dark as we have a God who illuminates the path of life, lightens the heavy loads and presents a future light eternal where all darkness will disappear.