In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. ~~John 1:1-5
I heard a podcast this morning, “Speaking with Joy,” that gave me a new thought about these words, above, we hear so often on Christmas, Joy told a story from her childhood. She and her family attended a church when a terrible tragedy happened at it, a shooting that killed several people and wounded others. Joy and her family spent hours in front of the television watching the news until her parents finally decided they needed to do something else. They put in a movie to watch instead, a documentary about the star of Bethlehem. Joy says that day she had a thought that has stayed with her ever since, “that the world isn’t safe, but God is real.”
Why did that strike me in a way it had not before? I had not thought about the light of Jesus in that particular way. I thought of it more as enlightenment. Jesus and what we learn of him, all that he did, enlightened us to understand who he is and to follow him. But that statement, “the world isn’t safe,” is real to me -- to all of us. I have been thinking about the fact that the world isn’t the way we’d like it to be. People are not the way we want them to be. I am not who I want to be. Things don’t go the way I want them to go. And beyond that, the world is just plain unsafe. It’s not good. Not only do things not go as I want, they often go horribly. People are hurt. The earth is damaged. Terrible things happen. As true as that is, so is this true: “God is real.”
In one sense, these are parallel truths. Two truths side-by-side, seemingly unable to both be true, yet they both are, like the two lanes of a one-way street. But there’s a difference. The light on one side shines into the dark side. It doesn’t run beside, parallel, never touching. The light shines into the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.
I’ve often written about “reflecting God’s love.” That has a deeper meaning to me now, too. Reflecting God’s light. In the darkness of the world, our light also will not be overcome. George H.W. Bush was mocked for talking about “a thousand points of light.” I don’t know if Bush meant anything related to Christ in his “points of light” statement, but it certainly meant people doing good. I thought of those “thousand points of light” as I meditated on Jesus as the light, and on us reflecting that light. As we try to reflect Jesus’ light, we are points of light in the darkness of the world.
On this eve of Christmas, celebrating the coming of the light of the world, I thank God for the light he shone into our dark world. I pray that I, and many, many others will reflect that light. I know the darkness will not overcome it.
I am adding this summary of our Advent series on "Places" that our pastor gave in his sermon Christmas Eve.
Sermon - Christmas Eve, 2018
Rev. Trent Elders, San Jose Christian Reformed Church
When you say yes to the light of Jesus,
when you simply open yourself up to it
your whole being can change.
You are Bethlehem,
you were in a famine and now you are the house of bread.
You were barren Hannah,
but the creative wind of Ruah,
the deep magic from the beginning of time
has blown into you,
it has taken the chaos and created order.
You are now the fruitful offspring of Abraham,
the curtain separating the holy of holies has been torn,
and the very spirit of Jesus has been born
into your desolate stable of a body,
and has been lain in the dirty feeding trough of your heart.
The word became flesh,
and made its dwelling among us,
and this changes everything,
for the light shines and the darkness has not overcome it.