Darkness: Two girls from my daughter’s school will spend Christmas Day awaiting charges of conspiracy to commit murder. They intended to shoot students and teachers.
Darkness: Yesterday my friends wept at the funeral of a sixteen-year-old boy who shot himself in his loving family’s basement.
Darkness: People dear to me face Christmas with empty chairs where those they loved used to sit.
Darkness: With dismay I find impatience, unkindness, pride, and self-protection spilling out of me: Left to myself I shed darkness in world that needs no more dark.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer said, “A prison cell, in which one waits, hopes . . . and is completely dependent on the fact that the door of freedom has to be opened from the outside, is not a bad picture of Advent.”
We sit in the dark, in prisons of loss, fear, and violence, in a world where everyone we love will die. And in the dark, even more darkness oozes out of us. Yes, not a bad picture of Advent.
Who will open the door?
At Christmas the glory bursting from the baby-King in the manger throws back the door, and the light of His heaven floods our cell, our heart: “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 . . . For to us a child is born,” (Isaiah 9:2, 6).
And on Christmas day, as we rise trembling from the floor of our prison cell, blinking our eyes in the glory, we must ask, “What is this light? What does it mean?
Christmas glory explodes around us, proclaiming that the darkness we live in – the darkness in us – cannot extinguish His love: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it,” (John 1:5).
And His love will save us. He will shine away our darkness (1 John 1:9). He will wipe away every tear (Rev 21:4). He will stop every war (Psalm 46:9). He will restore all that is lost (Rev 21:5).
So whatever deep, black darkness presses around you or seethes within you this Christmas, I pray that the day will dawn with hope, that the glory of the face of the baby-King will throw back the prison door of your heart with the brilliant light of His love. May Christmas say to the deepest part of you, “He loves you. He has come for you. You will never be alone.”
May you hear Him whisper this Christmas morning, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you,” (Isaiah 60:1).
Merry Christmas with love to all who wait in the dark.