“Let your face shine upon your servant; save me in your steadfast love.” Psalm 31:16
“For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light.” Ephesians 5:8
While many bemoan the darkness of winter, others celebrate Dark Sky Sanctuaries, special places devoid of artificial light. Ironically, the draw of such rare places is realizing our vast universe with her brilliant stars, the Milky Way, Northern Lights. Beneath a black sky, across inky seas, stars guided ancient seafarers. Slaves fled in the dark night, guided by stars to freedom. There is comfort seeing candles and lights strung in neighbors’ windows; beauty seeing shadows on moonlit snow.
Latitude aside, Advent is a season of darkness, anticipating the light that will come with our Savior’s birth. We imagine that Jesus was born at night after a long day of travel. It would have been dark, perhaps a lantern at most. Manger scenes are typically well-lit so we can see … the face of a calm (relieved) mother; the loving caretaker (frightened) father; radiant beams from the holy face of the (crying) baby. Our salvation does not depend on the time of day, or just when the shepherds and distant travelers arrived. The light of Christmas is simply, miraculously, the Son of God made flesh, full of grace and truth, compassion and mercy, for our redemption.
We were not redeemed to languish in darkness. Words from Scripture and hymns have been a lamp for our feet and a light for our path. “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” (John 1:4) We are redeemed to let our light shine, so others too may see Christ’s love, and glorify God.
“With our own eyes, we see salvation. Within our hearts, we are set free. Your Word made flesh, hope of the nations, Light for the world to see! Christ, be our light! Shine in our hearts; shine through the darkness. Christ, be our light! Shine in your church gathered today.” Amen (Prayer text: Bernadette Farrell)