Christmas: God's Light Shining in the Darkness

an igloo with a viewRecently, Tish Warren wrote an Op-Ed for the New York Times, Want to Get Into the Christmas Spirit? Face the Darkness. She wanted to address how, as Christians, we celebrate Jesus’ birth as the light that has come into darkness, and as John’s Gospel says, ‘the darkness could not overcome it.’ She wrote:

“Advent bids us first to pause and to look, with complete honesty, at that darkness … We dwell in a world still racked with conflict, violence, suffering, darkness. Advent holds space for our grief, and it reminds us that all of us, in one way or another, are not only wounded by the evil in the world but are also wielders of it, contributing our own moments of unkindness or impatience or selfishness (emphasis added)."

“G.K. Chesterton wrote that original sin is the ‘only part of Christian theology which can really be proved.’ The believer and atheist alike can agree that there is an undeniable brokenness to the world, a sickness that needs remedy. Whether we assign blame to human sinfulness, a political party, corporate greed, ignorance, tribalism or nationalism (or some of each), we can all admit that things are not as they should be – or at least, not as we wish they were …"

“Our response to the wrongness of the world (and of ourselves) can often be an unhealthy escapism, and we can turn to the holidays as anesthesia from pain as much as anything else. But we need collective space, as a society, to grieve – to look long and hard at what is cracked and fractured in our world and in our lives. Only then can celebration become deep, rich and resonant, not as a saccharine act of delusion but as a defiant act of hope.”
I believe Ms. Warren’s words are insightful, especially about our need to look hard at the darkness. I am convinced that we are increasingly allergic to hardship. The slightest speed bump angers us. Encounter the least inconvenience? That makes us demanding for better service.

And then our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, resolutely looked into the darkness of us – and all that would be necessary to rescue us – and He came. He CAME in spite of all that He knew He would suffer. That humbles me (to know how expensive I am), but it also secures me (to know just how much Jesus loves me, that He would know how bad it would be, and He came anyway). He did not complain. He would not stop. And He calls me to follow Him into His very same mindset.
I can resolutely look into the darkness precisely because of Jesus’ Coming. The darkness may be very dark, but He is the very Light of God, and the darkness cannot overcome Him. Merry Christmas!

Things to Pray for:

  • Humility. To face what’s wrong in the world and in us. Ask the Lord to help you be honest and realistic about all the ways that you have turned away from Him toward your own ways.
  • Faith in Jesus. Ask Him to help you trust Him, that He has come to do what you cannot!
  • Hope. Ask the Father to give you a sense of His greatness – by His wisdom, His power, and His love – against everything wrong in you and in His world.
  • Love. Ask the Holy Spirit to bear in you His fruit of love. Ask Him to fill your heart to overflowing with a sense of God’s love toward you, and that it would spill out to everyone in your life.