A few years back on Christmas Eve, the transformer on the pole right outside our church building blew up about two hours before our candlelight service. That service was literally a candlelight service, because power was not restored until long after the worship service was over. It was a memorable, intimate service with the piano accompanying the carols being sung with no light other than that provided by the candles. The light of those candles overcame the darkness for us.
Given the choice between being in darkness and being in the light, we prefer the light. It is the better option. Yet we all struggle with darkness in various ways. Like when you put up your pre-lit Christmas tree and over one third of the lights don’t work!
Some struggles with darkness are far more significant: loneliness … depression … worry … cancer. The darkness is real, it is strong, and it can be overwhelming. And even though we prefer the light, we often turn away from it.
• A hurtful word, a wrong assumption, a misunderstanding and we let the darkness overcome us — we react and lash out.
• A loved one dies, a relationship ends, a marriage fails, and you don’t see any light. You feel as though there is no escape from the darkness and no hope and no joy.
• A coworker takes advantage of you, a client cheats you out of a commission, you are asked by your superiors to do something unethical — and you wonder if there is any good in anyone out there. Is there nothing but darkness?
It is into each and every one of these situations — and any others that you can imagine — that God has shined his light and his love.
Isaiah 9:2 “The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.”
John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.”
God’s light is shining, and the darkness cannot overcome it. The light shining in that Bethlehem manger would be the same light shining from an empty tomb after the payment for all sin was accomplished. This is God’s love for you and for all people. The love that all the universe could not contain was delivered to you in a small package, wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger. God wants that light to shine into your hearts and lives every day to remind you of his love and concern and his presence with you.
2 Corinthians 4:6 “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.”
We have seen the glory of that light shining. Through faith, we have that light shining for us every day. How can we help but join with the angels to sing: “Glory to God in the highest!”
Michael Mattil is the pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison. He can be reached at email@example.com.