Stand in the Light

I am sitting here at my dining room table this morning, prayerful, thoughtful, looking out my window at a sky that is a reflection of the world: dark, threatening, ominous.  We have bravely faced many storms this year. We have tried in many way to deal with the chaos. Have you, like me, arrived at this Eve of Christmas, emotionally spent? Last night, I laughed, more from frustration than amusement, when I checked the delivery date of a gift ordered two weeks ago, now scheduled for December 29. Even the post office which once boasted that “neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,” can get it right these days.  

We pastors have valiantly tried to minister through the gloom with cameras and webcasts, but who’s kidding us?  A flickering screen is a poor substitute for a room full of worshippers. The weird, the hard, the disappointing is part of all of our lives in ways big and small.

And yet …

There is a Light in the darkness, a Reason for Hope.
God sent His Son and John says of Him – “Life itself was in him, and this life gives light to everyone. The light shines through the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.” (John 1:4-5, NLT)

By faith we can encounter the Holy, find renewal in the Promise, know the goodness of God’s love. We choose to stand in the Light. Some will surrender to the darkness, giving in to despair. I will not!

I read an essay in the NY Times written about the inadequacy of virtual worship, the difficulty of finding God’s Presence while staring at the screen in the living room. The author talked about his family’s choice to dress as if they were going to church, that they put their chairs in rows like pews, that they followed along with the responses … and eventually found it tiresome, attention lagging. But, I loved his conclusion.

“One recent weekend we gathered once more for Zoom church. My wife logged on from her military outpost and I logged on with the kids. I settled into my role at tech support. Two of the younger kids lingered on the couch happily coloring. As I followed along in the service, something surprised me. I looked up from the computer and saw my daughter standing in the middle of the living room. Her tender, beautiful voice resounding throughout the space. She was singing. I found myself ushered into the presence of something that defies description.”  (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/opinion/zoom-church-christmas-covid-loss.html)

In this line, he expresses one way that his family has chosen to stand in the Light.
“We stay because attendance is not about what the church gives us; it is our way of offering something to God. It is a small rebellion, a way of saying that there is more to life than simply the acquisition of more.

This Christmas let’s choose to look up, to confess our faith in Jesus, to simply accept His promise, even if we are feeling only soul fatigue.

Let’s choose to stand in the Light that the darkness of sin, COVID, political strife, racial strife, and personal pain cannot extinguish. 

Regardless of our circumstances, this is the TRUTH of day. 

“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, (radiance, light, splendor) the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NIV)

Tonight when we come to the quiet of Christmas Eve, be it in a church sanctuary for some, in the living room for others, or even somewhere alone – bring this declaration to mind.  
Confess aloud, “I choose to stand in the Light.” And He will dispel the darkness. 
When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12, NIV)  

I look forward to ending our Christmas eve service, no matter how few are in the building, with our traditional passed of the light, candle to candle, a symbol of our calling to be people of the Light, who share Him with our world.

My prayer is that God will give you Hope, Joy, Peace, and Love by His Spirit this Christmas, that you will know the sweet comfort of Jesus in your life.

Merry Christmas!

__________________

Silent Night

Silent night holy night
All is calm all is bright
Round yon virgin mother and Child
Holy Infant so tender and mild
Sleep in heavenly peace
Sleep in heavenly peace

Silent night holy night
Shepherds quake at the sight
Glories stream from heaven afar
Heav’nly hosts sing alleluia
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Silent night holy night
Son of God love’s pure light
Radiant beams from Thy holy face
With the dawn of redeeming grace
Jesus Lord at Thy birth|
Jesus Lord at Thy birth

Silent night holy night
Wondrous star lend thy light
With the angels let us sing
Alleluia to our King
Christ the Savior is born
Christ the Savior is born

Franz Xaver Gruber | John Freeman Young | Joseph Mohr © Words: Public Domain

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