When I was in elementary school, my class toured a cave. At one point, they turned the lights out in the cave and it was as if the world fell away around me. It felt like nothing was there except my pounding heart and an encroaching darkness. My circumstances and my situation had not changed when the lights went out, my friends and teachers were still there, but the darkness made everything feel different. It obscured and shrouded, so as far as my brain was concerned my friend and teachers were gone, and I felt alone and scared.
There is a reason that scripture uses the imagery of light and dark. Those things are vivid and tangible. We know all too well, that shadows on our spirits can feel as substantive as shadows on the sidewalk. Fear obscures. Anger, anxiety, bitterness, and jealousy shroud. We could be surrounded by hope, love, peace, and joy, they can be as near as our breath and feel a million miles away. But, just as the smallest light can illuminate the deepest darkness, God’s love shines through the shadows on our heart.
That is the power of the incarnation. That is the power of what we celebrate at Christmas.
2000 years ago, God saw humanity struggling and in pain and did not abandon us to the shadows. God came down as tangible light, as tangible love.
God’s light shines in our darkest moments, taking power back from the fear, anxiety, doubt, and negative voices in our heads.
When we feel unworthy, the light reminds us that we are of sacred worth.
When we feel weak and powerless, the light reveals the strength and courage already within us.
When nothingness whispers our deepest fears and worries, the light banishes them.
The light reveals the shadows for what they are, transitory, impermanent, and false.
At Christmas, God’s ultimate light enters the word. And though the shadows may feel strong, though they feel thick and dense, God’s light does shine. Now, it may take more than you hearing one sermon to recognize how God’s light shines for you. It may not happen overnight. It may take therapy or medication, journaling, and spiritual practices all working together with God’s light to burn through the shadows and the fog. And that is ok. The good news of Christmas, is that love shines up on us. That God’s light births new life into our hearts. The good news of Christmas, is that peace, hope, and grace are alive; that love is here.
So tomorrow, may we celebrate God’s birth into the world and what the light of God births within us. May the light of Christmas morning break forth in beauteous heavenly light and may we find new faith, hope, joy, peace, patience, strength, and courage illuminated in the manger of our hearts. It is Christmas, and light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not, will not, and cannot overcome it. Amen.