We — that is, all of humanity — basically live in the dark. We can see very little of what’s around us in the universe. Even in our own solar system there are who-knows-how-many rocks of various types and sizes whizzing around in what we think of as the emptiness of space. One astronomer said, regarding the asteroids, etc., that pass through the Earth’s orbit, that if we could flip on the lights in our solar system and see everything, it would be rather disconcerting.
But the physical universe isn’t the only dark in which we live.
We face the darkness every time we look into the future. Of course we make plans based on what probably will happen, but nobody knows for sure. Everyone has encountered the unknowableness of the future in ways both positive and negative.
We face the darkness when we look at the basic questions of our lives. Where did we come from? Is human life an accident or something more? Why are we here? Is there really a purpose to our lives? What happens when we die? Is that the end? Does all of what makes me me simply disintegrate into nothingness?
While there are many joys of Christmas — time with loved ones, the giving and receiving of gifts, decorating our homes, feasting on delicious food — the core joy of Christmas is that, out of love for His creation, the Creator of the universe has not left us in the dark.
The prophet Isaiah wrote the following about the Messiah several hundred years before Jesus was born:
The people who walked in darkness
have seen a great light;
those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness,
on them has light shone.
Isaiah 9:2 (ESV)
God has shown his light on the impenetrable darkness of our lives. The message of Christmas is that the light of God is the light of love.
Christmas is the beginning of the end of the darkness. We cannot penetrate the darkness on our own, but on Christmas day we celebrate that Christ, the Savior — the light of the world — is born.
God has not left us to languish in the obscurity we face on a daily basis. He sent his Son into the world to rescue us from the land of deep darkness.
Where did we come from? God created us. We are not accidents. There may be accidental parents but there are no accidental children.
Why are we here? To live in love. God created us to live in harmony with Him and with one another. Even though that harmony has been shattered by sin, God has begun the process of restoration by sending his Son into the world. His reign begins in the hearts of those who trust and follow him. Jesus of Nazareth, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas day, is our:
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6b (ESV)
What happens when we die? I can’t tell you exactly, but I can tell you that it is going to be wonderful, amazing, fantastic, joyful beyond description. Those who have been given a glimpse of heaven struggle (and fail) to adequately describe it in human language (e.g. streets of gold, clear as glass).
Some who are reading this are feeling the darkness acutely right now. If that is you, remember that even in the worst moments, you are the object of God’s tenderest affection. It is precisely because of the brokenness in this world that God sent the Savior whose birth we celebrate.
The core celebration of Christmas is the celebration of God’s answering the most profound and disquieting questions of human existence with a resounding, “I love you!” God’s great love for us compelled him to action, shining the light of his love, forgiveness and new life on those who dwell in a land of deep darkness.
Amid all the wonderful things that the Christmas season brings to our lives, take some quiet time to contemplate the deepest gift of Christmas: light in a dark world. And be open to opportunities to share that light with others, letting God’s love compel you to action in loving others.
Oh, yeah! Merry Christmas, for sure!