“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.” Isaiah 9:2
“Remember how much light you have.” Ben Shive
I don’t know when Christ was born. I don’t know the day that Mary and Joseph finally held their new baby in their arms or what the joyous celebration sounded like from the upper room. But I know that when God in his sovereignty allowed us to establish a feast in remembrance of Christ’s birth, midwinter was the perfect time.
Darkness and light take on new meaning as the sun sets at 5 o’clock and we sit down to dinner and rise to our work all in darkness. Cloudy, hazy days of snow and fog blot out the sun and our very bodies long for the darkness to at last yield to the light.
Into that void enters Advent. Isaiah foretold the light and John proclaimed it: “The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). All of Advent has been straining forward to the light; waiting for Christ’s glorious appearance to those who dwell in a land of deep darkness.
I love the rhythms of Advent, pointing backward and calling us to remember the groaning and longing, the disobedience of Israel and the faithfulness of God and the prophesies that promised a deliverer, against all odds. But, too often I camp in the first Advent, forgetting that we are still in darkness, waiting for Christ to come again. Only this time, the darkness has already been broken; the horizon has started to glow. And, still not content to leave us alone, God placed his own spirit, the spirit of Emmanuel, inside of us, that we might bear witness to the light and be the light to the world in darkness.
As Advent at last ushers in Christmas day, may you remember how much light you have.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you.” Isaiah 60:1
Amen and amen. Merry Christmas, indeed.