Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December Adventures

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light:
Those who lived in a land of deep darkness –
On them light has shined (Isaiah 9: 2, NRSV).

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in him was life, and the light was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it (John 1: 1-5, NRSV). 

As it happens each year, once Daylight Savings Time ends in early November, darkness comes quickly and earlier in the day.  I’m not really sure what to think when my house becomes dark around 3:00pm when the sun goes behind the mountain, but this is a part of the cycle that happens each year.  The darkness comes early, but after the Winter Solstice, the light gradually returns until we Spring forward once again in March.

It comes as no surprise that the season of Advent and Christmas are during the darkest time of the year.  The darkness is literal, but can also mean other things too.  Some may be in the darkness of the trials of life, the darkness of loss and grief, the darkness of hopelessness, the darkness of being overwhelmed.  The list goes on and on.  And sometimes, the Christmas/Holiday season is not always a happy time for everyone. 

Amidst the darkness that may be felt at this time of year, there is always new hope and new life that can be born and re-born in each of us.  But it also takes each of us to be the ones to bring hope and light to those who might find themselves in darkness.  And there are many ways which we can do that.  We can be the ones to brighten up someone’s day through our simple presence and listening ears.  We can be a beacon of hope to the lonely by extending invitations for dinner or to our gatherings.  We can be the ones to bring joy to families in our neighborhood who may be struggling.  We can be a comforting presence to those who are grieving.  And we can be the ones who can bring food to the hungry.  There are many ways to accomplish each, but this is one way the work of Christmas begins and can last throughout the entire year, not just December. 

I think of the words of Isaiah, “the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” which was written during a dark time in Israel’s history during the Babylonian captivity that lasted around 70 years.  In their darkness, the people yearned for someone to come and save them, a messiah.  However, contrast that message with John 1 where the new light comes into the world, bringing about a new hope that darkness would not be able to overcome.  We need to be the ones who are the light in this world when times are dark, we need to be the ones who will bring the hope, peace, love, and joy that Christmas brings. 

Advent is a time to slow down from all of the hustle and bustle of the season, to reflect as we wait, watch, prepare, and anticipate.  For the people who were held captive in Israel, they waited and watched for signs of the messiah, the one who would free the people from their captivity.  But for each of us today, what holds us captive from living our lives to the fullest and lives that are pleasing to God?  What new hope and what new life needs to be born or re-born in you this Christmas?  And what can we do during this Advent to be the light of the world for others in our neighborhood and world as we await the new hope that Christmas brings to each of us? 

Peace & Blessings,

Pastor Andrew

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