Many centuries ago, communities would gather to pray. They observed that the days grew shorter; the night was winning. Perhaps soon the day would disappear entirely.
So people gathered during these long nights and they would pray for the light to come again.
Long before Christ entered the world, these ancient people gathered because their world was growing darker. The days grew smaller and the nights grew longer. And this sounds like an image doesn’t it? When it feels like the dark is going to last forever. Like it will always be this way. This sensation is terrifying!
And these people would gather to make the days come back. They were confronting the very real question: what can we do to make the days return to our world?
Ancient people knew this method, this pattern, this way of living long before they’d ever heard of Jesus. But it also sounds exactly like Jesus. They knew this sense of wanting the night to go away, feeling that the night is never ending.
I don’t know about you but I think that might be an image that resonates. We’ve been living through a time that may feel like a night that will never end. That things are dark and continue to feel dark in our lives. And in the midst of that, that there is hope for something to come.
Something to hope for. Something that will transform our world. To bring the days back. To make the never-ending night go away?
Doesn’t that feel true?
Startling then, that God answers our prayers with a baby. When we’re praying for light, we get an infant. But it is closer to this: we are praying for peace and God sends the maker of peace.
And when he comes, he will not be honored as a guest, but made as one with the people. A beacon in our midst.
Even in the darkest night there is light. This light is coming and this light will be with us.
We may really be feeling these long nights this year. And yet, present in that night is hope. Tomorrow will come sooner. Inviting us to Joy in his presence.
I need it. I don’t know about you, but I need it. I need that invite. I need that Joy. I need that chance to participate in that Joy.
That’s how the light comes. Not in our desperation or because we will it.
But because God wants to be with us.
It’s about presence, with a c, not a ts. God’s presence with us. To bring the dawn. And with it, hope, joy, and love.
May you and all those you love know God’s blessing. And have a merry Christmas full of hope, joy, and love full of presence.