We have visions in our mind of what the seasons of Advent and Christmas “look like.” When I think Christmas, I think of it as a cold and dark evening. I think of the lights of the Christmas tree and the smells of good food cooking and delicious goodness baking in the oven. And the sounds…I hear Christmas music playing…and this season is one where relationships are renewed, as we spend time with family and friends.
These are my memories, images, hopes and expectations all rolled into one. I’m sure you have your own. And the images differ based on where you live. Someone living in the Caribbean, or in South America will have dramatically different images than we will. And of course, the images in my mind, and yours, probably have little or nothing to do with what it was actually like in Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. (My grandmother would probably argue with me, but I’m pretty sure there was no lutefisk or lefse at dinner after Jesus was born.)
But there is an image that is pretty universal when it comes to this season of Advent and Christmas: Light.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined.” – Isaiah 9:2
In a world of darkness, a world where God’s love took the form of law to guide the people into the light, the people wouldn’t listen…wouldn’t follow.
And so, the light came to them.
The light came to them.
The light of God is not merely a distant light, like a star, that gives us a direction to travel. No, it is an active light. It peers into the darkness. It breaks up the darkness. It defeats the darkness. And it lights the world; it lights our hearts. The light of God illuminates all of God’s creation. As it says in Isaiah, “on them…(on us!)…the light has shined.”
Christmas represents many, many things. The images and memories we carry of the celebration are strong. But first and foremost, it represents the birth of the light, the emmanuel, the God with us.
This week, we gather at the cradle to await the Christ child. It will be the birthplace of Jesus, and it is the cradle, the birthplace of light.
God bless you!