Even in the twinkly days before Christmas, the darkness of our world can overwhelm our joy. My friend Amy Boucher Pye rekindles our hearts.
Finding Light in the Darkness
By Amy Boucher Pye
A hush descends as the lights are switched off. The congregation is bubbling with anticipation. A young child says, “It’s dark!” to muted laughter. We watch as the pastor lights the candle held by the person at the end of the row, and they light the candle next to them, and so on. Little glowing circles move down the rows until all the candles are lit and, faces aglow, we marvel at the beauty of light dispelling the darkness.
At the beginning of Advent, our church holds a service with Christingles, a symbol created with oranges and candles in 18th-century Germany to help children understand how Jesus is the light of the world. The flames dotted around the congregation speak of God’s love dwelling in his children through his Spirit and Son, a mystery made possible because Jesus came to earth as a baby.
Light is warming, comforting, and heralding, and God as the source of all light is a rich theme in the Bible. Indeed, light is the first thing that God creates in the Genesis account—even before the sun (Genesis 1:3–4). God then reveals himself as a light to his people, such as when he appeared to Moses “in flames of fire from within a bush” (Exodus 3:2) or as a bright cloud or a pillar of fire (see Exodus 13:21–22).
In the New Testament, Matthew in his gospel says that Jesus fulfills Isaiah’s prophecy that “the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). We might feel overcome by the darkness around us—the diseases, betrayals and injustices—but God shines his light on us through Jesus.
Similarly, John starts off his gospel with an affirmation of Jesus being the light of life: “In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:4–5).
We live in a world permeated by darkness, but the black clouds and oppressive sense of nothingness will not win out against the light. As you light your Advent candles, Christingles, or other festive sparklers, ponder the glory and power of light—and of Jesus, the light who has come into the world.
Jesus, you bring light and life. As I yield to you, your presence within me burns away that which is not holy. Help me to welcome your clarifying light, that I might be free of any sin that clings. May your light within be a gentle and welcoming beacon, a signal in these dark times of a safe haven. Amen
The article has been reprinted from Celebrating Christmas by permission of the publisher. The candle image at the top of the article is painted by Leo Boucher.
Amy Boucher Pye shares from her home in North London, and her father Leo Boucher paints from his art studio in Minnesota. Together they’ve created Celebrating Christmas: Embracing Joy through Art and Reflections, a book of 25 of Leo’s paintings with Amy’s accompanying thoughts. They hope that their book can help people ponder, through words and images, the wonder of God with us, of Jesus being born as a baby, entering the world in humble and fragile circumstances, the miracle of God coming to earth. You can find them at amyboucherpye.com