Light in a Shadowy World
Lately, the music on my radio has been telling me “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year.” The lyrics of that popular Christmas carol give lots of reasons for it being wonderful. Though for me, I also enjoy this time of year due to the cooler weather and relief from the south Texas heat; a chance to get out my jackets and winter clothes for a couple of days or possibly weeks. What I don’t like so much are the shorter days, getting home from work and it’s already dark. I miss having extra daylight and sunlit evenings.
This year, it’s not just the shorter days that seem to diminish the light. The inability to get together in the ways we’re used to because of physical distancing makes our world seem less bright. Anxiety due to the pandemic, world events, and the economy add to the darkness. We miss getting together with family and friends, seeing a smile because it’s hidden behind a mask, and sharing a hug or handshake. All this makes the world feel darker, the shadows seem deeper, and we wonder where the light went. We miss the sun’s light and the light of each other’s company when physically separated. Though we miss the light, it’s not gone; light doesn’t work that way. The source of the light may not be visible or present, but the light is still there. Light reflects and illuminates even where it doesn’t directly shine.
During Advent season, we’re reminded that Christ, the light of the world, came and lived among us. We look forward to celebrating what was foretold by the prophet Isaiah that “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light…for to us a child is born.” The Apostle John teaches us that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Although the world may seem darker right now, our faith rests in God who created light, lived among us, and made His light shine within us. In thinking about our shadowy world, remember that shadows are not areas of darkness. The reason we see shadows is because there is light that is overcoming the darkness. We may not be able to see the source of the light, but the shadow is testament that the light is there.
Have you ever been out at night during a full moon and a clear sky? The moon can be so bright that it actually casts shadows. But I learned in elementary school that the moon doesn’t emit any light. The moon reflects the sun’s light. And even though the sun is hidden from our view, we know it is shining by the light reflected onto us. We also see this with light on new fallen snow, sometimes the reflection is so bright you need sunglasses. And there are even reminders in our Christmas decorations. The tinsel and sparkling ornaments are brightened by the lights they reflect, and the darkness is diminished.
As Christians, we are God’s light in the world. We are called to spread that light and diminish darkness. And though we cannot physically see Christ, the light of the world, He is visible through the light we reflect onto each other, our community, and our world. Our actions, our service, and our gifts are all ways we illuminate the world around us by reflecting God’s light. As we contemplate on the world around us and the challenges and struggles that seem darkest, remember that we see shadows because light is overcoming the darkness. We are strengthened in the knowledge that God created the light, filled us with His light, and the darkness will not overcome it.
This is the season to prepare to celebrate God’s son, Jesus Christ, coming and living among us. And just as my radio reminds me that it’s the most wonderful time of the year, it also asks, “Do You See What I See?” I hope you see that in our shadowy world the light has overcome darkness. God has filled each of us with His light so that we can illuminate the world around us and turn darkness to shadows and shadows to light. Because, as the carol ends, He will bring us goodness and light.