There was a man long ago who believed that he would see God’s light in a very special way. His faith was rewarded when Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple for His customary dedication. When the man (whose name was Simeon) saw Jesus, he praised God and called Jesus a “Light of Revelation” and “God’s Salvation” (Luke 2:25-35, vv.30 and 32 in particular). Those seem like strange names for a baby! But Simeon understood that he was seeing some of Isaiah’s prophecies come true right before his eyes (Is. 9:1-7). The dark days of his waiting were chased away by God’s Light.
Hannukah is another festival which features light and it too is celebrated at this time of year. The lights of Hannukah tell the story of a dark time in Jewish history when the Temple had been defiled and worship there was being suppressed. A bold, young man named Judas Macabee roused nationalistic fervor among the Jews and after a year of skirmishes and battles he was able to recapture the Temple in Jerusalem. However it was in such a state of defilement it seemed like it would be an impossible task to clean it up. None the less the clean-up job was initiated and after a year the rededication of the Temple became a reality. But, as the story goes, it was discovered that only one day’s worth of the proper oil for the lampstand in the Holy Place could be found. It was decided that the ceremony would still take place and the lampstand would be allowed to go out. Once more oil could be produced the Temple would be dedicated again. However when the priest entered the Holy Place the following day, the lamp was still burning and for the following 7 days (while the new oil was being made) the lamp remained burning. The darkness of those days prior to the dedication was replaced by a great miracle; one the Jewish people still celebrate today.
It is not surprising to me that the darkness this time of year seems much colder than others. It’s not just the fact that the temperature is lower due to the sun’s distance from our planet. In the northern hemisphere the color has been drained from our surroundings by leafless trees and hibernating gardens. Even the animals lose some of their color to naturally blend in with the defoliated forest. I’m always jealous of the folks who live in the southern hemisphere at this time since they’re heading into summer but then, they encounter the same flip-flop when we are suffering through the heat of summer and they are in the midst of their winter. Still, on a daily basis, we all face a point when the darkness seems overwhelmingly here to stay until that moment when the first hint of light pops over the horizon at sunrise or just like that initial spark on a piece of wood promises that heat is on the way.
There is something about faith that is perfectly illustrated in the attraction of a light which pierces through the darkness and draws us to it for warmth and the ability to see. So it is not unusual to find that many passages of Scripture use light to teach us that coming to know Christ as Savior is like the process of being drawn to a light in a dark room. 1 Peter 2:9 teaches us that God has brought us into this light: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. As you can see, the attraction does not stop when we find the light, it continues as we draw others alongside us so that they too can benefit from it.
Back in the ancient days of my college years my friends and I would sing a song that began with the words, “It only takes a spark to get a fire going”. The song continued to affirm that God’s love was similar. If you “Passed It On”, it would take off like a flame. So as the Advent season continues, find ways that you can be God’s light for those who you see caught in darkness. Be the light that dispels darkness for them.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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