Sunday, December 11, 2016

A Light in the Darkness

Matthew 5:16 says "In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

Christmas celebrations begin at our house the Sunday after Thanksgiving with a brief Advent reading.  Our Advent tradition is a hodgepodge that began with a wreath I made at church, note cards from my friend Velda and candles from my friend Joyce. 
The highlight of Advent for my boys is lighting the candles. They love seeing the flame from the lighter jump and double for the brief moment as both the candle and lighter are lit.  They love putting out the candles even more. My youngest loves blowing out the candles- it is like his birthday every evening as he is anticipating presents and the joy to come. My older son whose nicknames include “Danger” likes to put out the flame with his thumb and pointer finger by pinching it out. Last night, the boys tried putting out the flame by whistling.   Advent at our house is not a formal solemn affair but a way to focus for literally two minutes on Christ, the Light of the World. 
Jesus came as the Light of the World. “He said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life’.” John 8:12   He came into our dark world and He understands our places of pain.  “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised and we esteemed him not”. Is53:3
This is a dark time of year, the days are shorter and darkness easily creeps into our hearts as we stress about finances, shopping lists and getting everything done.  We can dread Christmas as we think about the people who are no longer here to celebrate with us. Seeing family doesn’t always bring joy.  Loneliness, unmet expectations and grief can steal the warmth from the this season.
As the light flickers on our Advent wreath, I have been marveling at how much joy light gives. It provides safety, warmth and connection.  Things get lost in the dark, yet the light shines and illuminates everything around it.   
As a child, I remember sitting in darkness, holding a candle at our Christmas Eve service, waiting for my mom to pass the flame from her candle to mine. I would eagerly light my little sister’s candle grateful that I was old enough to pass on the little flame. The room would start to get brighter as more people lit their candles.  Everyone in the room had a choice to accept the light and then they could chose to pass it on. As each of us made the choice to pass on the light, the sanctuary was illuminated and the darkness was banished.    We all have the same choice- will we accept the Light of the World, will we allow it to transform our hearts and fill our lives with love and warmth?  Then we have to choose if we will pass it on.  Will we share the warmth and love we have been given with others? 
We are called to be a light to the people around us.  Just as a candle brings light, joy and warmth, we have the ability to be a blessing to others through our words and actions. The Message puts Matthew 5:14-16 “Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.  
There is a lot of darkness in the world right now.  Accept the Light of the World.  Jesus will transform your life and bring you comfort and joy instead of grief, sadness and loneliness.   Then pass it on.  You have an amazing privilege; you can bring light and joy to the people around you.  Share the Light