Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Darkness and Light: Thoughts on Christmas

Posted by Michael

“If my strength is not my own, if my righteousness is Christ’s, my darkness only makes his light more lovely. Satan might as well be accusing the shadows in a Rembrandt of ruining the masterpiece. God bends even our sin to the service of his glory.”
      -Andrew Peterson (from his introduction to Russ Ramsey's Behold the Lamb of God)

Christmas is a time of hope. It captures us all. The smell of evergreen trees, the bright red ribbon around candy canes, the sound of familiar carols, all stir emotions inside of us. December finds us in a variety of states. Some have just pocketed Christmas bonuses while others pray for employment. There are homes packed with children and relatives that have traveled in from far away. There are homes filled with silence and loneliness.  Ornaments are purchased for a child’s first Christmas, while just down the street a widowed wife is unable to unpack the tree for her first Christmas without her husband. However it finds us, Christmas dares us to hope that things can be better, that somehow whatever immediate darkness we may be encountering will give way to brighter days.

The first ever Christmas also combined intense measures of joy and pain. Added to the joy of a newborn son was the knowledge that Mary and Joseph shared:  this child would be like no other! God was visiting His people just as He had promised. At the same time, it must have saddened the couple to birth their child so far from the comfort of home and family. On top of that, the prattling whispers of Mary’s premarital pregnancy that awaited them when they returned to their home added to their weariness and stress. They huddled together among the livestock in the last hours of daylight, cold and conflicted, honored and humbled.  Little did they know that as their new family spent its first night together, miles and miles above their head, a new light was piercing through the darkness.  A never before seen star’s light had reached the earth and the attention of scholars from the East. In spite of the darkness of that night or of their circumstances, God’s light was unwrapping a plan to rescue humanity.

Although a bit less extraordinary in some of the details, our lives mirror the experience of Mary and Joseph. Joy and anticipation mingles with loss and confusion. Sometimes it seems the darkness will suffocate the light completely. Mercifully, the light of God’s love for us will never be extinguished. Not only that, but the light is all the more brilliant in the midst of the dark world that surrounds us. God’s unending love for me is overwhelming, especially when I consider how poorly I love others and even myself. My prayer this Christmas season is that we will glimpse again the light of the irresistible love that God has for us, breaking through the dark.  


  1. Good reflections. I love Isaiah 8:22-9:2 about "the people who walked in darkness have seen a great light. . ." In my Bible footnotes is a great comment: "Shifting away from gloom, Isaiah prophesies bright hope." I just love that word picture. Of course, it's fulfilled in Jesus(Matt. 4:16 and Luke 1:79.)