“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” Luke 2:29-32 (ESV)
(From “Emmanuel, God With Us”)
Grace and peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The last winter, in South Dakota, my family and I were sitting in the living room enjoying a video. The wind was howling out side and the snow blowing against the window sounded like sand. Just as the credits began to roll, there was a flicker in the lights… then another, and finally the lights went out completely… and it was dark. Not just a little dark either, I mean really dark. Fortunately, the lights were only out a few minutes and they flickered back to life again. After a few other threats, they stayed on for the remainder of the night. You know, there is just something people don’t like about the dark. That’s why night-lights were invented. That’s why the hall light burns out long before the lights in the kid’s rooms. That’s why horror movies are always set at night.
But there is also something we like about the darkness. In the dark, we can’t be seen. We can be quiet and alone. And if you’ve been in the dark for a while you don’t want the light. Think about turning that bedside lamp on first thing in the morning. The alarm has dragged you from sleep, but your still warm and comfortable. Suddenly the light click on and you shield your eyes from its invasion. It almost hurts until you become once again accustomed.
For a long time the whole human race was very much in darkness. People didn’t really know where they were. We didn’t know why. And many people tried to figure out the reasons, but no one found it. Some of the time we were afraid, in the dark, but sometimes we were very comfortable. Then a light did come into our darkness. It shown so brightly that none of the darkness was left at all. Jesus Christ is our Dayspring and the Desire of Nations.
Why is it that there is so much suffering in the world? Why do bad things happen to good people? Why is it that so many people wander around their whole lives wondering who they are? What am I suppose to do with my life? Why do people die, especially my close loved ones? Why do I have to die? Life is full of questions like this. Maybe we’ve come to expect them. Maybe we’ve become comfortable with them. But it seems that in a good and perfect world we would not have questions like that to ask. Something’s not right, something is wrong in the world.
Well, the world is in darkness. It’s like a shadow that covers over everything. Just like all darkness it makes it hard to see what’s real. And even though we know there is something wrong we can’t see what it is. Like sitting in a darkened room, you can’t see what’s around you. And you know what it’s like to drive the roads at dark, knowing that lurking in the darkness just outside your headlights are dear waiting to dart out in front of you. It’s dangerous driving.
God’s Word tells us about the darkness in the world. It’s called sin. Sin is a blindness that has affected all people. It ‘got dark’ when Adam and Eve decided that they wanted the ‘knowledge’ to judge good and evil on their own. They thought that that knowledge would let them see more clearly. But in reality, it blinded them to God and His desire for their lives. They separated themselves from God by saying that they wanted to be their own judge of right and wrong. But that’s something that only God can really say, and that separation has been a real part of every human life ever since.
The advent hymn Oh, Come, Oh, Come Emmanuel talks about our Dayspring. Oh Come, Our Dayspring! We sing right here in the middle of our darkness. Oh Come, our Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by your drawing nigh. Disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Jesus Christ has come into our dark world and He has brought true light. God has always been about bringing light. Remember God’s first words in the bible? Let there be light! Through Jesus God has spoken those words again. Let there be light! Let people see. Let them see that disease and suffering and death are not the way the world is supposed to be. Let them see that things are not right. Go, my beloved Son, and be the light that takes their darkness away. Be their Dayspring.
One of the worst things about darkness it that it hides those we love from us. You know what its like to try to find someone in a crowd; and if the crowd is in a dark room its even harder. Darkness separates from people. In darkness we are alone, stumbling around looking for a friend, a mate, or just someone to talk to. Sin, the real darkness in the world, has made it much harder to find each other.
It’s because of sin that we can’t see each other clearly. We can physically see other people. But we don’t know what they are thinking. We don’t know what people really want from us. How many of you had a crush on someone when you were young? It’s called a crush because is pushes everything else out of your mind. You spend endless hours trying to find answers to your questions of: Does she feel the same? Do he really like me? But primarily the most important thing about a crush, the thing you spend the most energy on is keeping it secret. You don’t want to rush out and speak your feelings, because you don’t want to be seen as foolish. So you keep your secret in the dark. And really all of our relationships are like that. We spend a great deal of time and effort trying to discover what people mean when they say certain things. We argue over the smallest thing because of a simple misunderstanding. Marriages end because the spouses don’t ‘understand’ each other anymore. Without God, without Jesus Christ, people are disconnected from one another, hiding alone, living in darkness.
When the light shines in our darkness, we are not alone anymore, we can find each other again. When we are at one with God, through Jesus, He binds our hearts together as one. Jesus brings light to the troubling questions of life: Who am I? What should I be doing?
Who are we? We are God’s precious creation, loved by Him dearly. He shows us the great extent of His love by sending His only son to die and be separated from Him instead of you and me. He sends His Son into our dark world to shed light on you and show you that you are His. God made you His very own child in baptism. That’s where God snatched you out of darkness into His wonderful light.
Where are we going? We are going to be in the light forever. That is the light of Christ. We are on our way to city where there will never be any darkness. And right now you have a great purpose. You are a light in the dark world. You are a light pointing to Jesus Christ; showing people that their darkness can have an end.
It’s not always easy to see the light. Our lives are full of dark moments that we’d rather not have to live in. But God shines the light of Jesus on your life through His Word and Sacraments. Through these things, He keeps you focused on the true light of the world.
You have been placed in the light through faith in Jesus Christ. He is the Dayspring that will dawn on a new world. He is coming again, and when He does, all that is dark, evil, and sinful will pass away forever. And we will join with all those who have faith in Him, past, present and future, one in the light of Jesus Christ. Amen. Come Lord Jesus, Come! Amen.
The peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.