Added to this seasonal experience are the areas where living in darkness is indeed metaphorical of other struggles in life: fear, loneliness, despair, sickness, frustration, apathy, gloom, wickedness, questions, brokenness, misery.
Then we hear this:
The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned. Is. 9:2
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Jn. 1:4-5
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Jn. 8:12
These familiar Christmas words are filled with hope, no doubt. Reflect on them. Soak in the light that overcomes the darkness.
But also be honest.
Too often the light of Christ is portrayed as little more than Christmas cheer, in which going through the motions of holiday tradition with a smile on your face is somehow supposed to magically cure your ills. Light, we believe, is something we acquire by an act of our will. Being “happy” and “merry” are fabricated cures for escaping the darkness, or at the very least, ignoring it.
Sentimentalizing the light of Christmas ends up trivializing the darkness of our lives.
Let’s not forget there is darkness even in the nativity story:
- Mary - social darkness through an illegitimate pregnancy.
- Joseph - secrets of his betrothed cast a shadow on his place in a community.
- Zechariah and Elizabeth - barrenness dims any hope of a future.
Interesting, though, that these individuals didn’t overcome their darkness to only then encounter God’s light. No, in the midst of their darkness, light broke through the gloom of worry, exclusion, fear, and uncertainty. Not light after the darkness. Light in the darkness.
Yes, December is dark for many. Let’s not pretend it isn’t. And the hope of Christmas isn’t to ignore or escape this darkness for a period of temporary holiday happiness.
In our darkness, we don’t find the light; the light finds us.
The light shines in the darkness...
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned
Related: Light of the World