Christ, be our light.

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“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”     – John 1:5

Here in Washington, the days leading up to Christmas have been wet, gloomy, and grey. And just earlier this week, we commemorated the Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year. In the midst of this great season of Advent, a season of joy and light, this confluence of natural events has offered me the much-needed impetus to pause and take some time to reflect on the darkness in my own life and in the world in which we live.

We have a lot to be sad about this season. We have much to be weary of. There are a multitude of reasons to despair. And yet, in the midst of all the pain, brokenness, trauma, and sorrow sustained in our own lives and throughout the world, we are assured of the promise that as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, a new day will dawn.

Therein lies the tension of the faith we live and breathe, a faith that is full of contradictions because we worship a God who is big enough to accommodate the “both/and” realities that are a hallmark of our experience of being human.

Every year, we get pulled into a harried performance of sending cards, baking cookies, making fudge, cooking dinner, hosting and attending holiday parties, buying gifts, and wrapping presents. And as stressful and fast-paced as this performance can be, we must get something out of it. Sure, it is nice to spend time and relax with those we love. And it is nice to bring a smile to another person’s face. But I also suspect this performance offers us a distraction on some level. In all the “acting,” we distract ourselves from confronting head on the darkness that exists in our lives during the holiday season. After all, the message we hear loud and clear is that we are not supposed to be sad on Christmas.

But many people are sad on Christmas. And sadness – darkness – is very much a part of our lives. Yet it is our sadness, our despair, our brokenness, our own experience of darkness that compels us even more to seek after the light. If Christmas is to truly mean something to us, we must take the time to encounter the darkness in our lives and to reflect on the ways that others are light for us, to give thanks for that light and to be that light for others.

It was no mistake that Jesus, the true light of the world, was born in the darkness of the night. Over two thousand years later, we still seek after the same light that led the three magi to the manger where Jesus was laying. As we seek after light this Christmas, may we fall on our knees at the manger in awe and splendor as we marvel at the grace and light that casts out all the darkness of the world. For as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow, a new day will dawn.

+ CMJ

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