Every year I write a Christmas piece. I look forward to this part of the season almost as much as my kids look forward to proving to me that they did in fact guess what all their gifts were by shaking them. (In their defense, they have been under the tree since November.) Topics for my Christmas writing have ranged from various aspects such as the stable or the star to the gift of grace or the perspective of the camel (which was my first and is still arguably my favorite).
This year, as I travel through the Christmas season yet again, I am pulled back repeatedly to one single aspect, one that has never quite caught my attention in this magnitude before. I am surrounded by it but I stop and stare far more frequently.
I am captured by light.
At this moment I am surrounded by lights, many small twinkling Christmas lights that glow brightly enough so that no other light is needed. There’s something that stirs and quiets in me all that same time when I stop and take in a sight of beautiful lights. I can’t seem to get enough of them.
I love how John says it:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world.” (John 3:19)
I recently watched a depiction of what it must have been like for those receiving visits by angels concerning the coming of the Messiah – Joseph, Zachariah, the shepherds, and so on. While the events following and surrounding the telling of the news were so exciting, the thing that caught my attention and where my mind has stayed is this: the years of silence that preceded these announcements and what that must have been like when it broke.
For hundreds of years, God’s people were walking in silent darkness, wondering if they’d ever hear from God again. I think about the days when I feel like God is silent and the feeling of sorrow that comes over me for just mere days. The world had fallen under this silence for centuries.
Until one day.
It makes me think about the feeling of coming downstairs in the morning and pulling back the blinds to let the light in.
I think about the hungry and searching masses in the world who suddenly were birthed a new hope. I think about that thrill of hope for the weary world – the weary weary world that lost its strength and inspiration. I think about the priests who continued to carry out commands with no response, the prophets whose ears no longer received the words from their Lord, those who continued to look up day after day with no answer.
I think back to the time of creation, how there was nothing and God breathed everything – how one of the very first things he did was created light. One of my children asked me tonight if God created darkness. I smiled a little and said, “No, darling, darkness is what exists without light. God created light.”
I like to think what creation must have been like. A light dawns and then several lights, and then billions of them – stars, planets, galaxies, filling the entire universe. I think about our planet spinning in the midst of all of this. I think about what a grand event that must have been, like the grandest fireworks displays and then so much more.
And I picture our earth again, having nearly lost its light, fallen into darkness, with just a few candles of hope flickering in the corners. And suddenly, out of this darkness angels begin to travel across the expanses to appear to weary, ordinary people. They come with lights and songs and promises. And their numbers increase from just single appearances to the great heavenly hosts appearing to the shepherds, just as the stars and galaxies dotted the sky at the dawn of creation. And then, a second dawn appears – the greatest of lights begins to shine in the lowliest of places.
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)
Can you imagine the relief? The refreshment? The excitement? For those whose hope had lingered on, they would finally see the Light they had waited and hoped and prayed for. And for those living in darkness, they would see a Great Light whether they understood it or not. The darkness was being pulled back like a curtain.
Hope had finally been born. A light had dawned. Love had come.