Legend tells the violent story of the Kray twins, the gangster brothers, who ruled the East End with their gang the Firm in the 1950s and 1960s.
If ever you need reminding about how dark and depraved people can become, this is a good, or perhaps a very bad, example. The terrifying world of the Krays was one of violence, extortion, intimidation and murder. They were eventually caught and sent to prison following the brutal murder of gang member Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie.
The Bible has much to say about darkness and its impact upon us. ‘Some people sit in darkness in deepest gloom, like miserable prisoners.’ Psalm 107 v 10 tells us. But then it goes on to describe the way God leads them out of darkness, and snaps their chains. Gang member Chris Lambrianou was sent to prison in 1968, for his part in disposing the body of Jack McVitie. Whilst inside he hit rock bottom, and clutched onto a Bible to help him through one particularly long night of despair. Chris subsequently became a Christian, and in the words of Psalm 107 v 14 – ‘The Lord snapped his chains and led him out of darkness and gloom.’ He was released from prison in 1983 and I heard him speak about his life and faith in the late 1990s.
We are perhaps more aware than ever this year that the world can be a dark place. And as we approach the time of Advent, we could well look to Psalm 107 v 13 – ‘“Lord, help!” the people cried in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.’ Isaiah wrote – ‘The people who walk in darkness have seen a great light.’ And Jesus quoted this when he began his work in Galilee. ‘The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,’ he said, giving folks clues as to the reason for his presence. ‘And for those who lived in the land where death casts its shadow, a light has shined.’ I’m a bit weary of the forthcoming Christmas time now being widely referred to as The Holiday Season. It seems to steal away the hope of Christ. Christmas can be stressful and overwhelming, and for many, very lonely, but the Biblical promise is that it’s the sign of a new start. New light reaching into our darkness. Giving us purpose and hope as we struggle, and strength for the times when we grow weary.
To finish, here’s a festive advert for ‘The Holiday Season’.