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The People Walking in Darkness

Pentatonix is an a cappella group that rose to fame partly because of their Christmas album. They release a new album of holiday songs almost every year—happily for me, because I love their arrangements.

This year’s album features a song called “Prayers for this World,” which was co-written by legendary ballad-penner Diane Warren. (You might remember her song from Titanic…) Not surprisingly, it’s an absolute beauty, just instrumented enough to give it maximum power. I highly recommend taking a listen. The (magnificent) bridge pleads,

We’ve gotta get us some love and light So love can light the way The clock is ticking; time’s running out Is someone listening? Help us out!

This is how so many people feel nowadays. I can relate, too. Somebody do something! begs the song. But at first, I could not get over the irony of putting this song on a holiday album. The lyrics aren’t exactly joyful!

Then I got it. People might still feel it now in our time, but it’s certainly how God’s people felt right before the Savior’s birth. The song appears in the album right before “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing,” which proclaims,

Peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!

The song asks a question, then the album answers it: Somebody did do something. For four hundred years (the silent years after Malachi when no prophets of the Lord were speaking)—or really, ever since the first sin, when Adam and Eve were cast out from Eden—people felt hopeless and longed for an answer. God’s response was to send his son, in the fullness of time, to take away the sins of the world, to break down the barriers between us and him, and ultimately to restore all of creation to perfection.

The message of Christmas could not be better! And it could not be clearer that the world still needs to hear it.

Even if you already know Jesus, you can always lean into the reminder. The Christmas season is associated with family togetherness, excitement, and joy, but it can bring up plenty of grief and sorrow in those who aren’t having the “perfect” holiday. It’s ok to feel the pain and not ignore it or cover it up. Jesus was a man of sorrows, and he understands you. He also has an answer for our pleading:

When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12 NIV).

And because of him, in the midst of the darkest time of year (in our hemisphere) and the evil throughout the world, we can say:

[T]he people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. (Mark 4:15, Isaiah 9:2 NIV)

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