A Light Shines in the Darkness

moonstarMany of us will be greatly disappointed on December 26th.  The fog of Christmas and the blinding that comes from Christmas lights will fade away and we will be able to see.  We will see that things are the same as they were a few days before and we will wonder.  We will wonder why every year we anticipate, commemorate, celebrate the birth of hope into the world only to find that nothing changes.  Sure, we will have those who will make the concerted effort to be less abrasive over the holidays, but once the Christmas cheer has worn off it will be business as usual.  And then we will feel let down.  We will feel that somehow we have been shafted or maybe even lied to.  We will ask ourselves where this great hope is and what the point is of celebrating this false expectation.  We may even start to think about the story itself and become cynical wondering how anyone can believe in such a story anyway.  Then we will sit in this mindset until advent next year when we start to tell ourselves again, just maybe.  Maybe this time things will be different . . .

 

A few days ago I told my oldest son that we were going to the Hanover Park Community Center to hand out food and toys to the underprivileged children and he got mad.  My youngest was asking me if he could go and was excited to do it, but my oldest wanted to sit and play video games and was upset that I dare interrupt his game time with something as mundane as handing out stuffed animals.  How dare I?  I told him it was ok, he didn’t have to go.  I would just tell Jay that he had better things to do than help children who were less fortunate than him.  He threw down his controller and said “FINE!” and went along begrudgingly.

 

When we arrived I gave him a bag of stuffed animals and stepped back to watch.  His eyes got bigger and bigger as these children, some barely walking and some older than him, had their faces lit up as they received gifts that they could not have otherwise received.  Mothers and fathers sat with tears in their eyes as their children were given a Merry Christmas that they could not afford to provide.  More than once my eyes welled up with tears.  When it was time to leave we ran through the snow that had started to fall heavily and jumped into the car to get warm.  I heard a voice from the back seat.  “Did you see that?  Did you see how happy they were?  Those cute little kids were so happy with things that I wouldn’t even think of.  Wow.  We really are lucky.  You were right dad.  That was a lot better than playing video games.”

 

It sure is funny how pleased we can be with things that aren’t what we expected.  But we can also be pretty disappointed when we expect something out of misunderstanding and it never comes.  I wonder if this is what we have done with the Christmas story.  Jesus is born under a time of great oppression.  A time when the Jews felt that God had become far from them.  It was also near the winter solstice – the longest night of the year.  Wow, what imagery!  Into the darkest night comes the brightest light . . .  Immanuel, God with us.  The word, the light had come to dwell among humankind.  What if these scriptures are trying to tell us something?  What if Jesus was trying to tell us and remind us of a great truth that we completely misunderstood and as a result led to great disappointment and hopelessness?

 

Isaiah 9 says “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who liven in a land of deep darkness – on them a light has shined. . . For the yoke of their burden, and the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor, has been broken.”  And so we wait.  We wait for this to come true.  We wait with great expectation for the day when bad things don’t happen anymore and the burden upon our shoulders – life, death, debt, loss, sickness, hunger – is finally lifted.  We wait and wonder why Jesus doesn’t hurry up and do something and how can God be cruel enough to make us wait like this.  But what if, just what if we missed something very important?

 

John 1 tells us that the light shines in the darkness, but the darkness did not overcome it.  Jesus carried the light of God.  The spark of the divine.  The kingdom of God.  What if Jesus actually meant it when he said “the kingdom of God is within you.”  What if John 1 is telling us that Jesus showed the way for us to realize that we, too, have the spark of the divine within us?  After all, we are told that we are made in the image of God.  What if Jesus meant it when he said “go and do as I have done.”  WHAT IF, the whole time Jesus was telling us that, as carriers of the light of God, that we can actually bring hope to life and that this is the meaning of the Christmas story – when our world is in darkness, sadness, great need and oppression, a child of God is born as a light to the world and that great light is in each of us.  Perhaps by this understanding we can see that we need not be disappointed on December 26th, but instead should rejoice and sing because God is truly with us and working in and through us!  Then again, that would mean that we have a lot of work to do . . . I think we can handle it.  Let us experience great joy to the depths of our souls in knowing that regardless how bad life gets, no matter how much we endure, no matter how heavy the burden, God is with us and we do not have to bear the burden alone.  Let us so let our light shine among humankind that a new hope is restored and that EVERY day we can say unto us a child is born, unto us a child is given.”

 

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One Response to “A Light Shines in the Darkness”

  1. Beautiful! Let His LIGHT shine!

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