Light and Love

John 1:1 and Matthew 2:1-6 & 10

Yesterday, December 21st, was the longest night in the Northern hemisphere. From today, the darkness begins to recede.

How appropriate this natural phenomenon plays into our Advent and Christmas story.

Our Conference Minister, David Gaeski, wrote about darkness in his last letter. It begins like this;

“I awake to darkness. I wait for the dawn. Every year it is the same. Every generation. It has always been this way. Each generation has its own darkness to endure; to wait in; to dream through. Ours is no different.”

Darkness is a Biblical metaphor for the human struggle and search for meaning. Especially in the midst of suffering.

David Gaeski’s words, “Each generation has its own darkness to endure; to wait in; to dream through” made me wonder how we respond to this reality. Advent can teach us something about it.

Magda Herzberger was 18 when in 1944, when she was exposed by local Nazi sympathizers ending up in a holocaust extermination camp. In the midst of her darkness it is reported that

“…in her silent moments in the camp as she prayed, she knew in her heart that God could help her make it out alive.” [1]

We may not be enduring the hardships of Madga Herzberger, but neither is life a competition to see who has it the hardest. One’s own darkness is some of the hardest experiences we personally and individually contend with.

When the Gospel of John was written, the author skipped all of the Christmas stories and went straight to the crux of this event;

“What has come into being 4in him (Jesus) was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

Helplessness and hopelessness can be overcome. That is the witness of those who came before us. It is the message that hope can be found in the midst of our struggles.

I do not think anyone will dare to trivialize another person’s struggle and therefore, and one is hesitant to offer hope in the form of pious blabbering from a pulpit. We have all been exposed to well-intended but meaningless words from even our best friends.

But we can listen to Magda Herzberger who speaks from experience. Her words carry weight. When she lifts up her faith in God as her saving grace we might need to imagine how God functions in our own experience.

The birth of Jesus is really the story of God’s love breaking into a world running low on hope.

After the birth of Jesus, the other gospels tell us of the threat that came in the form of Herod, the puppet king the Roman occupiers had thrust upon the Jewish nation. He is made aware of this “new-born king” by a group of foreigners. These people are simply described as Wise Men. This story in itself is a verification of God’s love for all people, not just the in-crowd.

They come from a foreign land and faith and yet, even they are included in this sacred drama.

John the Evangelist announced the coming of a Light that will drive away our darkness. Madga Herzberger was saved by turning to the Light offered by her faith.

David Gaeski says “Each generation has its own darkness to endure; to wait in; to dream through…”

If you are feeling the darkness, not only of the winter days we are in, but the darkness that comes with your fear, or suffering, loneliness, or grief, regrets or depression, the stories of our faith and the stories of our friends who have weathered the darkness of life call out to us to today to embrace the Light of God.

Its not an instant cure. Its not a miraculous end to our experiences of struggle. But it is part of the path to a hopeful and meaningful life.

The Christ-story is simple. It is the reminder that God’s Love is our Light. Amen.