Kirstie Joy Schierkolk reminds us to carry the Light of the World into the darkness this Advent.
There is so much wrong in the world.
I hate the earthquakes that crush people, and shootings that terrorize and destroy life. I hate hurricanes that leave people homeless. I hate it when babies scream because they can’t sleep and their parents despair of rest. I hate it when babies are killed before they can scream at all. I hate miscarriages. I hate cancer. I hate it when children grow up doubting whether they’re loved, and when no one reassures them that they are. I hate it when women are treated like meat, and when men are stereotyped as animals. I hate it when refugees have no refuge, when immigrants find no welcome. I hate it when a thin layer of skin divides the human race. I hate it when I’m so selfish that I sicken myself and still have no desire to stop.
We live amidst darkness and it seems a poor cover-up to spend one month each year putting lights on house roofs that hear every fight beneath them. Eating what’s sweet and speaking what’s bitter. Having family reunions that spiral into contention. Sending out a card where your face smiles and your heart writhes. A poor cover-up, indeed.
But only if that’s what Christmas is.
Dear one, look up from the chaos of your heart and your world and see that Someone has come to bring hope to both. There is a light for every darkness, a beauty for every ugliness you daily witness in others. . .and in yourself. There is a song for every silent tongue, a peace for every angry spirit. There is a joy beyond every sadness, despair, and depression you’ve ever borne in your life.
Jesus Christ came to a people walking in deep darkness, to a mother and father from a town that had never produced anything good. The radiance of his birth was sung for lonely, dirty shepherds, and announced to a world deserving to die.
The celebration of Advent and Christmas isn’t hypocrisy–though it may have seemed so for you every year until now. It is not a month-long denial of darkness, but the blatant recognition of it.
A year before his imprisonment in Nazi Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote this: “The joy of God goes through the poverty of the manger and the agony of the cross; that is why it is invincible, irrefutable. It does not deny the anguish, when it is there, but finds God in the midst of it, in fact precisely there; it does not deny grave sin but finds forgiveness precisely in this way; it looks death straight in the eye, but it finds life precisely within it.”
The weeks of Advent are precious ones. Don’t hide away from the darkness; light your candles by the Light of the World and run straight into the dark with courage and joy.
Darkness could not overcome the One who saved you.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
– John 1:4-5 (ESV)