Christmas Glow

Light in Darkness

The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it. John 1


Light has always been an important symbol of Christmas for me.

In 8th grade I wrote a short story about a teenage young woman who was having trouble getting into the “Christmas spirit.” No matter what she did, she couldn’t work up the giddiness she used to feel about the season.

Then in church on Christmas Eve, during the candle lighting ceremony, she had an epiphany. The warm glow of the lights around the darkened sanctuary reminded her of the Good News of Jesus coming into the world to bring the light of God’s love to all people.

The story was a fictional representation of what was in my own heart–and often still is. I don’t get giddy about Christmas anymore like I did when I was a little kid. A lot of the “magic” of Christmas has faded in its importance and impressiveness in my heart and mind.

But this news–that God brings light to our darkness–I need that every-always.

If I’m going to feel anything special at Christmas, it’s almost certain it will involve light (or gel pens, but that’s kind-of the same thing).

During Christmas break in 1994, while I was engaged to my now husband, I got to go as his date to his brother’s wedding in Florida. I was in college in Kentucky at the time and went home to Ohio for Christmas and had my wisdom teeth pulled right after Christmas. I was miserable, but didn’t want to miss the wedding–the first wedding among my now husband and his siblings!

My now sister-in-law Angela was from the area where the wedding was, so she had insider knowledge on local attractions. One of the nights we were there Angela wanted to take us all to a Christmas village of some kind. I didn’t know what to expect and my mouth was sore, and I was weary from travel, so I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to go.

But I am so glad I did!

The Christmas village was this whole lot filled with sweetly painted wooden-facade little houses and buildings. All of the little structures were decorated in lights. You could go up and down the “streets” of this village and see all of the places lit up.

I don’t even remember if there was anything distinctively Christian about the display, but the light–Oh! All those lights! They lit up my heart that night and I will always remember the night Angela took us there.

To this day, even if I can’t manufacture any “Christmas spirit,” I am filled with hope, awe, and wonder when I see peeps of light at Christmas in candle lighting ceremonies and light displays.

There’s something about light shining in darkness that speaks to my heart in a way that daylight or a brightly lit room doesn’t quite do.

I often think of my depression as darkness as worries close in on me, and my sense of worth dims. So, I understand darkness all too well. So when tiny lights defy the darkness, I am reminded that God–my God–is bigger than my darkness.

My favorite Psalm says it this way, “If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” (Psalm 139:11-12)

Even in my darkness, my God sees me and knows me and loves me.

Once again this Christmas, I can’t seem to manufacture that giddy Christmas feeling of my childhood. But the glow of God’s love fills me with hope at Christmas time–and always.

May you too know God’s love with a tenacious hope that defies darkness.

4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Linda Drage on December 31, 2014 at 3:11 pm

    Thank you once more for directing me in the right path again. Back a few months I was ask to do a Temper Talk & I ended up writing it 4 times before I could get away from all the bad experiences and unsolved items that were never addressed by my pastor’s actions. The pastor even gave our new council a copy of the letter she wrote wanted to kick me out because we had an argument & I stood my ground. Synod said I could not go to council & defend myself & give my side of the story because it was a personal matter between me and the pastor & Synod did work as an mentor to resolve our difference. The pastor even gave our new council a copy of the letter she wrote several years ago, because I ask her how she could be so burtle in what she said. I just wanted to understand (see the light (reasoning for the lies being told), because I was still dealing with a long depression & because of health reasons I can’t take anti depressants & a lot of other meds.

    My final copy of my Temple Talk was that I didn’t go to Church to be saved because I had been given Grace the same as everyone else and I wasn’t looking for friends because they always wanted you to agree with them (the pastor & I had been close friends for several years before our argument- I didn’t mention any of that, of course). I told them what I find was a church family that was there when I was having surgeries, several deaths in my family and when I was sick.The church was always there. I told them about my depression and how dark it can get & not being able to see any good in me. I also told them that after rewriting this several times the light got brighter and I was able to pull myself out of the black pit.

    I told everyone that I need not talk about anything in the past because it only brings me back to the pit and my future with the church is very important to me. I started feeling unbelievably lighten by the burden I was carrying on my back. I don’t care a hill of beans what was written about me or who said it. It’s over. I have no desire to know why the pastor said what she did.

    I still go to church every Sunday and do what I can to help out & show respect to the pastor as I have always. The depression that lasted about 4 years is gone. I see God’s light which is greater than darkest.

    Thanks again,

  2. This response is, I know, a little after Christmas, but I identify completely with the incredible depth of imagery in light at Christmas of all times.

    At University, our Christian Union got a batch of John’s Gospels to give away, which came with the “tag-line:

    “When light entered the darkness; When hope became a person you could touch.”

    I’ve still not found a better way of expressing quite how incredible God’s arrival on earth is.

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