This time of year we are all well acquainted with darkness, and at least in our neck of the woods, cold. We feel their effects in our bodies: bringing, for many of us, low energy and physical hardship, a desire for the quietness of our homes, and for some, darkness into our minds. In this dark, cold season any amount of light stands in such stark contrast to our natural surroundings. Light cheers and warms our soul. Light draws us out of our desire to withdraw and isolate in the darkness. Light reminds us of the days of warmth and sunshine that will return with the changing of the seasons. Yes, even part of the festive nature of this season is decorating our homes and trees with lights!
However, as Christians during Advent and Christmastide, light has an even heavier importance than just beauty or the physical and emotional relief it brings to us during these dark days. The Scriptures that speak of Jesus coming to Earth are full of the rich imagery of light coming into darkness. The Prophet Isaiah says in Chapter 9 of his book:
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.”
By nature, light can not help but be light, and when brought into a dark place, darkness cannot swallow the light, but is overcome by it. Light cannot coexist with darkness. The light always prevails. Such it is with the powerful blinding light of God’s holiness. In the darkness of their sin, God’s people cannot coexist with His shining holiness, yet God, out of His desire for relationship with His people, made a way through the birth, death, and resurrection of His son, Jesus.
At Advent, we remember the hundreds of years the Israelites waited in darkness for the Lord to bring long awaited restoration through the Messiah, and we consciously acknowledge and seek to enter into the reality that we are awaiting the complete and full presence of God Almighty to come to us in Jesus Christ. The lights we hang on homes and trees, and the candles that burn on our Advent wreaths represent His light and the light of His Kingdom that is being ushered into dark places. This light represents a God in the Glory and Holiness of Heaven, who came to the darkness in the most humble of circumstances to dwell amongst His beloved creation. The Christmas carol says,
“Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him, nor earth sustain; Heaven and earth shall flee away when He comes to reign. In the bleak midwinter a stable place sufficed The Lord God Almighty, Jesus Christ.
God comes to us, chooses to dwell with us, and shines on us so we too can accept the light of Jesus, and allow Him to live in us and cast out our darkness. Then, out of the shadows, we can begin to see and live in the beauty that God intended for His Creation from the beginning. May we seek Jesus this Advent to shatter our darkness and guide us toward Him.
Adult: Spend time this week contemplating where there might be dark places in your heart. Jesus left His throne to come find us and shine His light on us. Are you willing to leave your throne to seek Him and have His light illuminate and warm your soul?
Youth: In the evening, (with your parent’s help), turn off all the lights and light some candles in a dark room. Get close to the candles and feel their heat and look how it illuminates the objects around it. Now look out your window. Look how dark and cold it is! Jesus wants to comfort you and warm you and give Himself to you this Christmas. He doesn’t want us to live in darkness anymore. Thank Him for being your light and accept His love for you!
The second week of Advent lectionary Scriptures Isaiah 40:1-11
Psalm 85:1-2, 8-13
2 Peter 3:8-15a