Thursday, December 20, 2018
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. John 1:5
Each evening, my family gathers in darkness around the wreath. We recite John 1:1-5. At the first mention of light, we strike a match like a flare. Amid trembling shadows, we share the dramatic fire from candle to candle. So the light grows, shining in the darkness.
This picture of a snow-covered street lamp by Trinity reminds me of my family’s ritual. Both hold a warm light we’d like to overcome the darkness in this world.
Yet something is off. Something in this picture unsettles even the ritual I hold so dear. I know: the light is outside the church. The church itself is dark.
This is hard truth. Even though Jesus told us, “You are the light of the world,” Advent reminds us that the light comes from God. It doesn’t come from us. Ouch.
John presses the point: “The world came into being through the light, but the world didn’t recognize the light. The light came to his own people, and his own people didn’t welcome him.”
For all our dramatic show, we religious Christians have a humbling season before us. We celebrate this story of how, by and large, religious people miss the coming of their Savior. We’re busy with the census. We can’t make him room. Still.
We’re still in the darkness.
And still the light comes to us. Full of grace and hard truth. Exposing our dark deceit. Our blind devotion to Caesar and all that is Caesar’s. Our dramatic theatrics, barely covering our naked need for a light we can never strike up ourselves.
God from God, Light from Light:
come into our darkness
and save us now.