Light in the darkness
If it’s a clear night, go outside and look at the stars. As you do, consider…
Those same stars shone above Abraham when God promised that Abraham’s descendants would be, ‘as numerous as the stars in the sky.’
Those same stars shone on the Magi during their journey to Bethlehem.
Those same stars lit the way for the earliest followers of Jesus to walk through darkened streets as they gathered in secret to tell his story, to pray, to break bread and share wine.
And now, those stars shine on you. How is that possible? How can something so tiny endure for so long? Even after a star dies, its light keeps shining for centuries.
Next, consider how such a tiny light can travel so far to reach us. No amount of darkness in the universe can stop a star from shining. Even a small light always wins versus the dark.
Now, let’s ask ourselves why the Christian church decided to start its year with Advent (1st December this year)? They could have begun at Christmas, as the days grow longer. They could have chosen Jesus’ actual birthday, which was probably in the spring, when all of Creation begins to grow. Wouldn’t it make more sense to start the Christian year on the day of Resurrection – Easter? Or, why not with the arrival of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost? Why choose the darkest time of year, when all of nature is dead, when it’s cold, wet, and dreary?
Maybe it was because the stars taught them about the ways of Jesus? Because, like the stars, his light is eternal and cannot be overcome by any amount of darkness.
When Jesus taught about God’s kingdom, it was always the same 3 steps: 1) death, 2) burial, 3) new life. His disciples patterned their lives on that rhythm:
Death – the end of the autumn. The leaves fall. The flowers die. The skies turn grey. Even in our modern world, November is a month that we reflect on those who have died before us in faith, service and sacrifice.
Burial – the days grow shorter in December. Seeds sleep in the ground. We spend more time inside where it’s warm.
New life – even though it will get colder in January, the days begin to lengthen. The light returns. Hope is on the horizon.
The symphony of the seasons are a gift from God. Our ancestors in faith wisely understood this and patterned their lives in this way. Our modern society tries to resist by keeping the same pace and doing the same activities 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, no matter the season, temperature, or weather, which separates us from the rhythm of God’s Creation.
You and I, we won’t be able to change this. But we can pay attention. Take time to witness what God’s Creation is doing all around us. We can join the dance of Christ through death and burial to New Life by noticing it in our daily lives. We can go outside and look at the stars, to see: light, hope, God’s promise of a new world.
If you haven’t already, seriously, stop reading this, get up, go outside and look at the stars. I’ll be looking at them too.