Saturday, December 22, 2018

Blue Christmas: "I Needed Darkness as Much As I Needed Light"

Tonight is the longest night of the year. In some traditions, today is called Blue Christmas.

This evening, as in years past, I attended a service at my friends’ house. We sang, read, prayed. It was a time to mourn he sufferings of the world; a time to acknowledge the darkness; a time to ask God for His mercy in new and brilliant ways.

Because only when there is darkness can we truly see how radiant the Light really is.

Episcopal priest and author Barbara Brown Taylor writes,

“I have learned things in the dark that I could never have learned in the light, things that have saved my life over and over again, so that there is really only one logical conclusion. I need darkness as much as I need light.”
(from Learning to Walk in the Dark).

This metaphors of darkness and light are repeated many times in Scripture. They chart our course from Creation until Christ’s final return. I quoted this passage during the first week of Advent, but it bears repeating:

The people who walked in darkness
    have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
    on them has light shone.
(Isaiah 9:2)

Isaiah 9 is one of the best messianic passages contrasting dark and light. It shows us, just like Taylor’s quote, how very important the darkness is in God’s plan for humanity. We often pray for the darkness to go away, but that’s not the way God answered Israel’s cries when He decided to send a Savior. As the gospel of John, it says God sent Jesus as the Light of Life:

The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.(John 1:9-13).

That was the will of God. He did not miraculously take away the evil and darkness of the world, the suffering of Israel under the hand of the Romans, or the centuries of persecution. He sent a Man so full of Light that the “darkness could not overcome it” (John 1:5b).

The famous passage from Isaiah 9 ends with this,
“Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this."
(Isaiah 9:7)
The zeal of the Lord will do this. Let us not forget God’s zealous plan of salvation. Often it calls us to trust in His mysterious plan. But as we read the Christmas story, we are blessed with a glimpse of that Light coming down. And making all the difference.

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