We live in a world of artificial lights. Light is all around us. It can even be with us twenty four hours if we want it. Natural light, however, brings so much joy. Who among us is not mesmerized by the glow of a candle, a fire or a star?
Darkness is not simply the absence of light. Darkness is a sense of loss. We lose our sense of direction, forcing us to stop and wait for a light to point the way. If we don’t slow down, we will likely run into something and hurt ourselves.
Darkness can also weigh on us. It creates a greater sense of the unknown. Darkness amplifies real and imagined dangers. How much louder is a sound at 2 am in a dark house that 2 pm in a house full of light?
Without artificial light we are at the mercy of natural sources of light. We sleep at night, snuggled in our houses. We work during the day. There is nothing like a fresh cup of coffee as the sun comes up.
We just passed the darkest moment of the year. December 21st was the winter solstice. From now until June 20th the days will get longer and brighter.
It should come as no surprise then that Christians chose December 25th to celebrate Christmas. Yes, Christians chose this date. There is nothing Biblical about it. It is completely symbolic.
In the dead of winter, in the darkest days of the year, Christians celebrate the Light of the World. This Light brings Joy to the World. We put lights on our houses. We put lights in trees. We light up the darkness.
These artificial lights are symbols that drive home the Gospel message.
Matthew 5: 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. 15 Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
Our light is our works. Do we give the gift of light? Do we feed the hungry? Clothe the naked? Heal the sick? Welcome the immigrant? Show kindness to those in prison? Do we comfort the afflicted?
Can we, as Christians, humble ourselves even though we are made in the image of God, not deeming equality with God something to be grasped? Rather, can we take the form of a slave? Can we serve?
Service brings light into the darkness. Christmas has all the symbols to guide a Christian on our journey through the world. Where there is darkness, bring light. Where there is sorrow, bring joy. Where there is despair, bring hope.