The Great Light
“The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.” - Isaiah 9:2
When Susan and I got married, we decided to start our own holiday traditions. So every year, before Christmas we traveled to New York City to see the big tree in Rockefeller Center. That was always a joyful way for us to spend time during the holiday season. Now that we live in Indiana, we either go to Chicago to see the tree in Millennium Park; or we go to Indianapolis to Monument Circle to see the lights strung from the Soldiers and Sailors Monument. What is important to us is to see the “tree” lit up with all of the Christmas lights - it is beautiful. The lighting of the tree used to be the first sign that Christmas was finally coming. But lights are not just decorative, they are symbolic.
What is the significance of Christmas lights? Why are they important to us as Christians? The answer is found in scripture: from Isaiah to Acts, there are powerful passages all referencing the importance of light. “The people walking in the darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness, a light has dawned.”
All of us agree that the world is a messy place. One look at the evening news seems to confirm this sentiment. The hard reality is that we cannot find our way out of the present darkness unless we find Jesus as our light. That is why the writers of scripture both in the Old and New Testaments emphasize Jesus has brought that light to save us indeed, He is the Light. (John 8:12) darkness is our universal experience, we are sinful humans living in a sinful world. Consider the time of Jesus’ birth. The beloved refrain from Silent Night:
“all is calm, all is bright.” was not the reality. At the time of Jesus’ birth, there was violence, injustice, abuse of power, homelessness, refugees fleeing oppression, families being torn apart and bottomless grief. Sounds just like today’s headlines, doesn’t it?
Where do we look for answers for these age old problems in our “modern” world? Is it governmental programs, free markets, education, the stock market or technology? Many believe we are smart enough today that if we try hard enough, implement the right programs or ideas, that we can end the darkness. Can we? The irony of the notion that we can save ourselves is that when we increase our efforts to do so, we only contribute more to the darkness. And all the ideas from the best and the brightest of our world only suggest that we will be exposed to more darkness. Humanity cannot save itself; we need the Savior.
The truth of Advent and Christianity is that things are bad and we cannot heal or save ourselves. But there is hope; a way out provided by God through Christ. That is the reason for the season. The light is found through Jesus Christ. Those who are living in darkness will see a great light! That is the hope and meaning of Christianity!
I invite you to journey with us through this Christmas season. We will travel together to Bethlehem and beyond to learn about hope, peace, joy and love; and their real meanings and applications through Jesus Christ. Be prepared to be challenged; be prepared to learn; and be prepared to open your hearts to the message of the season.
Joy to the world, the Lord has come!