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Celebrating the light amid the darkness
Who could ever forget December 2006?
Many of us were without heat, lights and power for eight consecutive days. It was the week that darkness dominated our lives. We were reminded how dependent we were on flashlights, candles or the glow of a cell phone screen.
Night after night as I drove across the I-90 floating bridge toward Mercer Island, I was stunned to see that unilluminated landmass silhouetted against the starlit sky. It was eerie. It wasn’t right.
Since the dawn of human history, darkness has been a metaphor of what isn’t right. Darkness (as you know) is not tangible reality in itself. It is simply the lack of light. Thus, it is an appropriate word to reference the absence of virtue, knowledge and life.
The godless deceive beneath the cover of darkness. The uninformed are trapped in the darkness of their ignorance. The dead are said to inhabit the “valley of shadows.”
No wonder both Judaism and Christianity approach their holy days in December mindful of light. Hanukkah calls for candles. Advent and Christmas do as well. A flaming wick atop a taper of wax symbolizes God’s divine intervention in a dark world of despair and hopelessness.
An ancient Hebrew prophet anticipated the day when light would deny darkness its right to reign. “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 NIV).
For Jews, those words recall countless times when God has delivered His captive people and illuminated their future with hope. Christians see the birth of Christ as the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy. “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” (John 1:4-5 NIV).
For both Jews and Christians, the Scriptures offer an invitation to look past this present darkness to a future bathed in the light of goodness, justice and peace. The light that has dawned is in the process of dispelling the darkness.
For now, darkness dominates both literally and figuratively. Wednesday is the shortest day of the year. News headlines are short on hope. Light seems in limited supply. But are you a glass half-empty or half-full person? This season invites you to be the latter. After all, come Thursday, the days start getting longer.
Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.