This time of year, light is a precious commodity. I love to sit near a sunny window on a cold winter’s day and pretend I am really at the beach (complete with sunglasses and a sun-loving dog on my lap). This works until the sun moves around the southwest corner of the house, and suddenly, I am left in the dark. What was a blessed womb of warmth and comfort is now gone. Bereft, I leave that place, and wait again for another time, another day, to find the light.
Sometimes a blazing wood stove offers a similar healing energy. Sometimes our spirits need to see the radiance of a candle against the darkness of the night, or a rising full moon bringing its own gift of peace. Other times can bring similar relief. Joy is palpable when the headlights of a loved one’s car finally can be seen after a long period of waiting. The return of electric power after a severe storm is a godsend. A welcome night light to see our way is a blessing. We are people who seek the light, and need light, in order to fully live.
Advent is the season where God reminds us that darkness does not reign over us. “Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” says John 1:5, describing God’s presence in Christ. Isaiah 9:2 proclaims that “the people who walk in darkness have seen a great light” when a mighty Savior comes to rule the earth. The lights of the shining Advent wreath illuminate the darkest days of our northern hemisphere, reminding us of the light which will sustain and carry us.
Christ is the light that sustains us through change, chaos, and brokenness. It is Christ who brings healing and reconciliation to the world. Christ shines as forgiveness and mercy are shared, as acts of justice and compassion are risked, as prayers rise for new life, as hope dawns in the eyes of the downtrodden and despairing. Christ reveals the presence of God in our midst, the One who comes as Jesus, Emmanuel, God-with-us. This light that clarifies who we are and who God has called us to be: people of the light, and not of the darkness.
May the candles, the tree lights, the sunrise, the glowing embers of woodstoves and fireplaces, the light of the moon and the stars, streetlights, headlights, and all that reveals and shines out of the darkness remind you of the gift that comes in Jesus Christ, the light of the world. Receive and cherish this light, for it is God’s astonishing gift to you of forgiveness, mercy, and peace.
Rejoicing in the light!
PS Just for fun, how many times does the word “light” appear in this article in any form? May the light of Christ shine abundantly upon you this Advent season!