The Coming of the Light
December 24, 2017
Bass Recitative: For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising. Isaiah 60:2-3
Bass Song: The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light, and they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined. Isaiah 9:2
It is Christmas Eve—the end of the candlelight service in a country church. The sanctuary is pitch black. As the children clutch their little candles, the wax begins to soften. Suddenly the minister strikes a match and there is a small flicker. The flame is passed from one person to the next, until the whole sanctuary is bathed in bright, warm light.
This drama is played out in many churches every year at Christmas. The candlelight service is a visible demonstration of the meaning of the Messiah’s birth: “The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world” (John 1:9).
When light comes, it does not merely penetrate the darkness, but dispels it entirely. So it is with the coming of Jesus Christ. He is the light of the world, and when he was born in Bethlehem, a flame was lit in this dark world. Whenever that flame is passed from one person to another, darkness is turned to light.
Where does the darkness come from? It does not come from God; it comes from us. Specifically, it comes from our sin. Our iniquity is the thick darkness that covers the world with ignorance and unbelief.
The saddest thing of all is that until God illuminates us by his grace, we prefer to live in darkness and gloom. Sin loves to lurk in the shadows, and because we are sinners, that is where we choose to hide.
The darkness that covers the world is not only the darkness of sin, but also the darkness of death. For the unrighteous, after death there is only more darkness.
Thankfully, God has not left us in the dark. We are not condemned to wander in the perpetual darkness of sin and death, for God has sent the streaming, sparkling light of the Prince of Peace into the world. Wherever the light of Christ dawns, the darkness of sin and death is dispelled.
Are we doing our best, every day, to pass the flame of Christ on to those around us?
Let Us Pray
O God of Elizabeth and Mary, you visited your servants with news of the world’s redemption in the coming of the Savior. Fill our mouths with songs of praise, that we may announce bright tidings that illuminate the darkness, and welcome the Light of the World in our midst. Amen.
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