Light in Darkness
‘The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.’ Isaiah 9:2
One of the first signs of the Christmas season is lights. I live in London and my hour commute home has become significantly less appealing since it feels like night-time when leaving the office. As I stepped out the other week into the crisp frosty air, trying not to slip on the snow, I was in awe of the warm glow from the lights that brightened up the city. Candles in windows, angels illuminating Oxford street, fairy lights wrapped around railings. But because we love the lights, it means when we get to the end of their season, almost all of us slightly dread them being gone, leaving us with the greyness of winter.
While carrying beauty, Christmas lights also carry meaning
Our world can be very dark, and for many these past couple of years have been some of the hardest any of us have experienced. In Isaiah chapter 8 verses 19-22, people tried to find answers by ‘looking towards the earth’ in the hope that human resources might fix their problems and yet only found ‘distress, darkness and fearful gloom.’ Perhaps you have felt the same way when looking at political figures promising change, the myriad of podcasts offering conflicting methods of healing or dreams fulfilled that didn’t complete you the way they said they would. Perhaps the thought of those Christmas lights coming down soon fills you with a sense of gloom or doom.
But the light Christmas talks about doesn't end when the decorations are gone. Isaiah 9 instead speaks of a light dawning on us, this imagery is intentional to speak of a light that doesn’t spring up from our world but instead comes down to us. The Bible encourages us to stop looking around and instead to look up, that Jesus is the light we are looking for. In John 8:12 Jesus says, ‘whoever follows me will not walk into the darkness, but will have the light of life’. Light dispels darkness so that we can see clearly. Like using your iPhone torch to find your keys lodged down the back of your sofa or turning on your car lights to drive down a dark country road.
The nativity story tells us that we don’t have to figure out this life on our own, our wonderful counsellor walks with us. And that is a message that reaches out beyond the Christmas season into whatever comes next. Jesus became one of us, he experienced our human condition and faced the same darkness we face in order to expel its power on the cross. If you face the new year in a place of darkness and don’t know where to look for answers, the Bible refers to Jesus as wisdom from God to us (1 Corinthians 1:30). Share the darkness with him, talk to him about it, he can empathise with you from first-hand experience. Let his light guide you when all the Christmas ones go out. Hope and light are not over just because the Christmas holidays are. God's light shines on.