Do you ever drive through Bethlehem, PA, and find yourself staring at the star shining over the city? What was it like to grow up under that star? What do the children of Bethlehem feel as they look out their bedroom window and see a star - just light bulbs on a pole, honestly - shining in the distance every night?
Light shining in the darkness, whether a star or the moon or a streetlamp or a flashlight, can change the world. How much has been said about this simple wonder of creation?
Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)
In the deepest part of the winter, at the exact midpoint, everybody stops, and turns, and hugs, as if to say "Well done. Well done, everyone! We're halfway out of the dark." (Doctor Who, A Christmas Carol)
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death light has dawned. (Matthew 4:16; Isaiah 9:2)
The deep and lovely dark. We'd never see the stars without it. (Doctor Who, Listen)
In him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. (John 1:4-5)
All the darkness in the world cannot put out the light from a single candle. So how can they handle your light? (Harry Baker, The Sunshine Kid)
The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? (Psalm 27:1)
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. We are all meant to shine. (Marianna Williamson, Our Deepest Fear)
Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven. (Matthew 5:16)
I could easily keep going. What's your favorite description of light? What would you say about light?
As we enter Advent, we enter both the darkest point of the year and the point on the Christian calendar when we look for the second coming of Christ and the recreation of the universe. But before we think about a new heaven and a new earth, do you remember the first thing God said when the universe was first created?
In the beginning, God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness. (Genesis 1:1-4)
Bang! The biggest bang ever. Light. Awesome light. Shining in the darkness.
As we near the end of the Bible, things honestly look very dark, as if the Flood were returning to consume us all. But it's here, in the dark moments before the new creation, that we also find the clearest visions of light.
There will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign for ever and ever. (Revelation 22:5)
Revelation is John's vision of the new creation. My vision is much simpler. Based on the above verse, I think the new creation begins just like the first creation, with God speaking a few simple words. "Let light shine in the darkness as well." In the first creation, God separated the light from the darkness. In the new creation, God's going to make light shine in the darkness so that there is no more darkness.
God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5)
That's the story we begin telling this Advent. That one day there will be no more darkness. There won't be those bad parts of our souls we try to keep hidden. There won't be all those fears in the world we try to keep hidden from our children. There won't be reasons left to cry. There won't be hate. One day there simply won't be sin or death.
That's the hope we recognize at Christmas. In that moment for the first time, light shined in the darkness, and it was beautiful. It was so beautiful that 2000 years later it remains one of the central stories of faith. It is so beautiful that our hearts long to share it every year, putting on Christmas Pageants and Living Nativities.
That's the reality we will celebrate throughout Epiphany. Because this story isn't simply a moment in history and this hope isn't simply a promised future, but our hope, our story is a present reality. When Christ was born, the first words of the new creation were spoken, "Let light shine in the darkness as well," and now the truth of those words is already entering our lives and changing the world.
The darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining. (1 John 2:8)
So walk in the light, for it’s already shining in you.
Jesus 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)