Dear Friends in Christ:
Our days of waiting in Advent darkness are almost over. These days of waiting and watching are a blessing to the church embedded in the church’s calendar. We Christians live by a different rhythm, a different clock and a different calendar. We start in the darkness. We wait in hope for light.
In John’s gospel there is no nativity narrative. But John does not fail to engage the truth and power of incarnation. In describing the Incarnate One – Jesus the Christ – he uses terms like Life and Light. The Incarnate One is “the true light that enlightens everyone.” John also notes “the light shines in darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it.”
As we approach the manger of Bethlehem this year it is not difficult to point to the many expressions of darkness that seem to surround us:
• Natural disaster upon natural disaster
• War and violence
• Despotism running rampant
• Economic collapse
I will stop here. Each one of us could lengthen this list without blinking. But remember we are the ones who follow the one who said of himself, “I am the light of the world.” So in these days we are called to follow the light--Jesus--with our whole beings so that we can assume the vocation of being light in the midst of darkness. We have the call and the capacity to dispel the darkness so that all might see and walk in it.
There is a story I heard a number of years ago about a little boy who was sitting in the window seat in his bedroom staring out into the night. His mother happened upon him and asked what he was starring at. He responded by saying “Mommy I am watching a man poke holes in the darkness.” You see the little boy was watching the man who came through the neighborhood every night lighting the gas lamps on the street.
The image is potent. What if we understood our work this Christmas and all year long to be the people who “poked holes in the darkness?” The light does shine in the darkness and the darkness cannot put it out.
Gregory V. Palmer