Lighted Windows

An Advent calendar for a world in waiting - updated and revised edition

Margaret Silf

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The world waits - sometimes holding its breath in fear of what tomorrow may bring, sometimes in a haze of busyness, or boredom, in which we hardly know what we are waiting for. Yet we still wait in hopefulness. The birth of a baby invariably stirs deep wells of hope in the human heart. Perhaps in this generation, things will get better. Perhaps this child will make a difference.

As we approach the Christmas season we prepare to celebrate the coming to earth of someone who really does make a difference. At this season the 'windows' of our human experience can change from rows of faceless panes, perhaps grimy with dirt, into lighted windows that open up new possibilities and coax us into a place where rejoicing might be possible.

The journey mapped out in this book is an invitation to look into some of these lighted windows, and discover a few reflections of what we wait for, and long for - reflections of God's guidance, his call to trust him and live by his wisdom.

Each window seeks to bring familiar scripture into focus with everyday living, encouraging us to enter right into the place where God is coming to birth, and to make the experience of Bethlehem our own. And finally, the windows become doors, through which we are sent back to a waiting world to share our personal experience of God-with-us.

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Author info

Margaret Silf is an ecumenical Christian, committed to working across and beyond the denominational divides. For most of her working life she was employed in the computer industry and recently left paid employment to devote herself to writing and accompanying others on their spiritual journey. Her books include Landmarks - an Ignatian Journey, Taste and See - Adventuring into Prayer, Wayfaring - A Gospel Journey into Life (all published by DLT), and Sacred Spaces - Stations on a Celtic Way (Lion).


Woman Alive Book Club December 2016

Margaret Silf, is a trusted retreat leader and popular writer of books on Christian spirituality, wrote Lighted Windows in 2002 but it has been reissued this year. It invites us to focus not on the darkness, but on the light that comes through '''God-with-us'- Emmanuel, God incarnate in the world of everyday reality with all its shame and its glory'' (page 12). In the weeks leading up to Christmas she reveals glimpses of God's guidance in our lives, how we can become more trusting, and how to discern God's wisdom. Then, during the Christmas week she welcomes us to enter into the 'heart of the mystery of God's coming to earth' (page 13). Lighted Windows is poetic, searching, and at times profound.

Amy Boucher Pye

Sarum College Bookshop: Book of the month November 2016

Perhaps I'm just nosy, but there is something fascinating about lighted windows. Whether you speed past them on your way elsewhere, or have time to stroll past and take a slightly longer look, even the briefest glimpse can offer an insight into other worlds or other ways of being. What you see can trigger memories or awaken possibilities; can comfort or disturb - especially if all you can see is your own self reflected in the glass.

Day by day, from the start of Advent to Epiphany, Silf's lovely book switches on the light behind all sorts of windows, offering us the freedom to do what we so often long to do but are too scared or too polite: press our noses up against the glass and look at what's inside. More than an Advent calendar, through readings, reflections, questions and prayer, Silf's insights help us understand what we are really seeing.

And she's not afraid to challenge. The very first prayer turns the traditional cosy image of lighting a candle upside down and invites God to blow out 'the little candle of my own making' where it prevents us seeing 'the bright sunlight of God's leading'. Later, we are asked to reflect on our experiences of the use or abuse of power and whether it has been used to transform or control; and to consider whether the experience of suffering just might be 'a gateway of possibility' through which we may find God's healing love.

The idea of looking through windows rather than at paintings is powerful: it reminds us that what we are seeing is not static or flat, but something living and three dimensional (at least!) which can draw us in or point us forward. It will not be the same for everyone, but then we know that 'in my Father's house are many dwelling places', all of them with lighted windows, through which we will see the things we need or are meant to see. And the great mystery of God's grace is how often windows become doors for us to walk through.

More than 25 years ago, I stood with my face pressed hard against a church window, watching a healing service, wanting to be a part of it but afraid to step inside, knowing that somehow to do so would change my life. I didn't then understand the difference between fear and awe: how one holds you back, while the other invites you forward.

Just as the glimpses of light we encounter on our travels can stay with us long after the journey's end, I believe this is a book to turn and return to, because it will continue to comfort and inspire long after you close it on the final page.

The Revd Norma Fergusson, Associate Vicar, Shrivenham & Ashbury Benefice

Book details

  • ISBN: 9780857464323
  • Published: 23 September 2016
  • Status:
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 192
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