“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Think about the darkest place you’ve ever been. Not emotionally or spiritually but physically dark. Think of what it was like to strain your eyes in hopes of making sense of where things in front of you are. The inability to use our sense of sight brings about a lot of emotions, namely fear and confusion as well as a false perception of what could be directly in front of you. That’s what darkness does best, it makes you believe you are the only one in the dark. It exacerbates the fear of the unknown and what’s next.
Above all, in darkness we try to find out who is to blame for the darkness. We try to rationalize who caused the darkness because assigning fault to what we cannot understand or overcome by ourselves is the way we most often feel purpose in a purposeless darkness.
In light of the events of our world in only the last few weeks, the division in our society feels darker and darker. People everywhere are trying to blame one people group or another for the darkness. Some people are blaming history, some are blaming modern society, some are blaming one individual or another and some are blaming God. In the lobbing of allegations, one thing that is never blamed is the darkness itself.
It is not a secret that we are living in dark times. I don’t by any means assume that the world has never been darker, because evil has been in the world for a long time. Maybe the truth is that as long as time is our marker for passing days, darkness will abound.
It is true, things are dark, but our advent is marked by the hope of a light coming into the darkness. When Jesus was born a light came into a dark world. But 30 years later he would let us know that we are the light of the world. That instead of finding out who is to blame for the darkness we are simply supposed to shine. We aren’t supposed to give into fear or deflect from our own darkness by hyperbolizing the darkness of those around us. We are supposed to call darkness dark, call sin sin and then be light.
I think the Rev. Fleming Rutledge put it best when she said, “The authentically hopeful Christmas spirit has not looked away from the darkness, but straight into it. The true and victorious Christmas spirit does not look away from death, but directly at it. Otherwise, the message is cheap and false. Instead of pointing to someone else’s sin, we confess our own. ‘In our sins we have been a long time’ [Isaiah 64]. Advent begins in the dark.”
Our waiting begins in the dark but our hope and our confidence is that with the light of the world coming into our lives, the darkness will not overcome it, overcome us, overcome hope.
The good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is that never again can the darkness stamp out the light because being filled with the Holy Spirit we are beacons of hope in the obscurity of the black.
You are the light of the world, the darkness will not overcome you, and it’s so much easier to believe that when we stand together to shine so very brightly.
Ali can be reached via email here.