Christmas: Let There Be Light!
Congratulations! You’re here. You made it!
It is a great time of year. It can be a little stressful though. Maybe, for you that’s meant:
- Extra hours at work in recent weeks so you can take time off for Christmas
- Organizing the family holiday, because, if you don’t do it, who will?
- Completing classes and finally finishing your midterm exams.
- You had to wrap up all the last minute preparations and get dinner ready too.
- You had to get the little kids dressed and the rest of your family moving to get here.
- Or you found enough motivation to get yourself here because you didn’t really want to come, but you came for your wife, for your parents, or for your mother-in-law.
Whatever you went through, you made it to this moment. I encourage you, to the best of your ability, to relax and enjoy this moment. You are not here by accident. God has something to say to you tonight and it all starts with light.
As the days get darker and darker, and the nights longer and longer, we more and more recognize our great need for light. In fact, light is life.
Light is life, and so as the days get darker we look for ways to bring light not only into our homes, but into our neighborhoods and communities. We put up Christmas lights on our Christmas trees, our homes, and around our communities. There is something magical about it. This is not a superfluous exercise but out of a longing for light at this darkest time of year.
The darker the world gets, the more important it is that we find the light and bring more light into the world. Light is a universal human need in all places and in all generations. And Scripture tells us that need is ultimately for God himself.
We need the light of God’s truth in our mind and the light of God’s peace in our hearts. Without them we really don’t know how to live, at least not as effectively as we could.
That’s why Scripture begins with light. The third sentence in the beginning of the bible reads:
God said, “Let there be light” and there was light. And God saw the light was good. Genesis 1:3
Light is the starting point of all of creation and all of creation depends upon it and follows from it. Life needs light. Without light there is no life.
Scripture teaches that God is both the author of light, and he is our light.
The prophet Isaiah reminds us of this truth. He lived at a very dark time in the history of Israel. Isaiah, though, saw a way forward, a way out of the dark. He wrote:
The people who have been walking in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom a light has shown. Isaiah 9:1
We know how difficult it is to walk through life in the dark. The darkness in our lives can come in many ways and by different names.
- You may be walking in darkness right now because of an illness that you or a loved one are experiencing.
- You may be walking in darkness right now because you have lost a loved one recently.
- You may be walking in darkness right now because of marriage issues. Your marriage has hit a dark spot, and the way forward is unclear.
- You may be walking in darkness when it comes to parenting your kids. You love your kids and want them to succeed but they’re not making it easy.
- You may be walking in darkness when it comes to your parents. You love your parents, but they just constantly get on your nerves, or at this point they’re aging and it’s challenging.
- You may be walking in darkness when it comes to work or finding a job, or finding a meaningful job. Or maybe the darkness is job related issues, struggling with co-workers or a superior.
- You may be walking in darkness when it comes to your finances. Your darkness is deep debt.
You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing, as they rejoice before you at the harvest, as people make merry when dividing spoils. Isaiah 9:2
It’s inspiring, it’s exciting when we see a way forward through the darkness of our problems. In fact it is a special kind of joy. God, your heavenly Father wants you to know this kind of joy.
Your heavenly Father does not want you to live in the darkness of discouragement or doubt, fear or failure, the darkness of conflict or confusion, the darkness of shame or guilt.
He wants you to experience the joy that comes from light. He wants you to experience the confidence that comes from living in the light of his truth. How?
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:5
The light, the incredible help we are going to receive comes to us in the form of a child. But, not any child, an extraordinary child, Wonderful Counselor, God-Hero, Father Forever, Prince of Peace. In other words the child will be from God, the son of God, who brings the light of God’s wisdom, strength, and peace.
It is not A WHAT that saves you from the dark, it is A WHO. Later Jesus says about himself, I am the light of the world.
It is in God’s light that we see light. God is both the author of light, and he is our light. He promises to lead us into light, to give wonderful counsel for every situation of our lives. As we follow Jesus, he leads us into brighter light.
This Christmas I could present an argument for God’s existence, an argument for Jesus being God, an argument that Jesus established his Catholic Church, all of those arguments. And those arguments could change your mind, I believe that 100%. Rational arguments change minds. But you need something else to change a heart.
It’s a person that changes hearts, it’s love that changes hearts. God is your soul mate. He is the one your heart is made for. It’s not actually your spouse, it’s not your kids, it’s not your future spouse, it’s not the person you want to meet someday and marry someday. They are not your soul mate.
Jesus Christ is the one your hearts were made for. And what we celebrate today, and what we pray for today, is that we not just hear another argument about Jesus or another argument about God, but that we actually get to meet the one our hearts were made for, and to let that change us. Here is a story about that.
At Christmas time, on the battlefield, an old priest was visiting the wounded. He came upon a very young soldier whose spine had been shattered by a bullet. He was lying face down in a canvas cradle. A round hole was cut in the bottom of the cradle for his face. All the young man could see was the floor.
Thousands of miles from home, in pain, and fearing he’d never walk again, he felt utterly alone, cut off from all the world as he stared at that floor hour after hour. He talked to the priest in hushed tones, and then after a while, he asked softly, “Father, could I see your face? I feel so alone. It would help me a lot, if I could just see your face for a little while.”
And so, carefully, with creaking joints, the old priest got down on his knees, then over on his back, and ever so slowly inched his way under the cradle till at last the soldier could see him – face to face – and know for a little while that he wasn’t alone.
That’s what we’ve always longed for as we stumble through the cold and the dark, trying to find our way. We long to see our Father face to face and to know for sure we’re not alone. We long for his warmth, his light, and his strength. And now on this holy night, our deepest longing is fulfilled and our dream has come true.
For as we look upon that tiny face in the manger, we know at last what God is really like as we see him who loved us first, face to face. He’s the one who loves us with a love beyond all telling, and he holds nothing back.
As we see this child and as we know the man he will become, we know in our hearts we will never be alone or cold or afraid again. For God’s son Jesus, has come to light our darkness, has come to warm our coldness, has come to show us the way home.
It is a journey you can begin tonight. Simply ask the Lord to be your light, and light your way. Whatever problem you are facing, whatever challenges are unfolding, ask Jesus to give you the light of your next step.
Perhaps resolve to take a quiet time daily to repeat that prayer; Lord Jesus, be my light, and light my way. Please give me the light of my next step. Perhaps, even find a community of faith to walk with you in the coming year. This church, this community of faith, desires to walk with you and invites you to walk with us.
This world can often seem dark. The darkness can fill our minds and our hearts. But God’s invitation for us this Christmas is to come out of the dark, and walk in his light. He invites us to walk with him in his ways, his peace, and his truth.
There is no life without light, and there is no light without God.