Strings of lights on countless homes.
Twinkling lights on every tree.
This Christmas, I have been struck again by the theme of light. So many Christmas carols sound out reminders of this day as the day the light of the world was lit.
"The dawn of redeeming grace."
"Love's pure light."
"Yonder breaks a new and glorious morn."
"In thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light."
"There shone a holy light."
"Guide us to thy perfect light."
It's no coincidence that Christmas occurs in the darkest part of the year. The tidings of Christmas are far more than Ho-ho-ho or Deck the Halls because they are tidings for people in darkness. Good news is made good by its contrast to the present circumstances. To many, Christmas may seem like a holiday where everyone is forced to fake happiness with each other joy because it's Jesus' birthday and we'd better say "Happy Birthday." Or perhaps there is no religious meaning to it at all, and it's just one more holiday where you have to pretend to have it all together. But Christmas is far more.
Perhaps more than any other holiday, Christmas acknowledges the fact that this world is chaotic, broken, messy, confusing, and dark. It reminds us that the darkest night is the one where the stars shine most bright. It recognizes the suffering, the sin and error pining. Far from demanding that we hide our hurts and brokenness, the coming of Jesus is the place where our hurts and brokenness feel a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices.
My friend Lauren writes,
We rejoice not because pain has ceased, but because the kingdom of God has come near.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the incarnate deity.
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus our Immanuel.
We rejoice because the With-Us God has irreversibly enacted his presence on earth.
Come and see what God has done.
We rejoice because light has come.
Hallelujah, light will chase and find us. Love is facing us again.
Christmas continues past December 25th because it is the beginning of a journey in which God dwells among us. As the holidays fade and routine begins, let us remember that every day, Immanuel, he is the With-Us God. I remind myself by placing the word Immanuel in places I will see it, like my phone background. Maybe you can remind yourself by lighting a candle or putting a note on the dashboard of your car. But as we move past Christmas this year, I encourage you to take one step that will help you remember this truth through the year: The light of the world is real, just as real as the darkness that surrounds it. But darkness is always subject to the light, and God is with us. Light has come.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him nothing was made that was made. 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. The word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only son of the Father, full of grace and truth.
God is with us.
Light has come.