When time are rough, when difficulty, fear and troubles arrive, it is hard to see good. When the boat is sinking, the shore looks far off. When the lights go out, finding a sliver of light to guide our way can be treacherous.
Did you know that during that first Christmas, some 2000 years ago when Jesus was born, history was in a dark place. Historically, the average life expectancy was 35. That means many of you reading these words would already be dead by now. The infant mortality rate was very high. Disease was rampant. Herod and many other ruthless rulers used brute force, terror, power and control to guide their empires.
In the first century, Joseph and Mary’s time of marital engagement would have been a wonderful time of life, but most assuredly the difficult times of Roman rule and terror would have been overshadowing their life. In some part of the 1st century there probably was a pandemic of sorts going on or certainly an outbreak of disease and illness. Our year of 2020 with all of its loss, change, pandemic anxiety, and illness is probably not much different then the year 1 AD when Jesus was born.
Not unlike our own times of 2020, or even last week as we watched the Capitol Building be stormed in hysteria, the 1st century would have been hard days to live through. So, imagine when into this darkness a Light shone. Imagine waiting through all of these years of God’s promises and BOOM, God whispers to you in a dream that your fiancé is expecting a baby by God the Holy Spirit and this baby will be a Savior (Matt. 1:21). Imagine having the Lord appear to you in a dream and tell you that this baby boy will be Immanuel, “God with us” (Matt. 1:22).
Imagine into one of the darkness moments in history, the Lord speaks to you and says, “You shall call this son of yours Jesus, and he will save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).
It is difficult to catch your breath when the air is thin. It is hard to walk when the darkness hides the obstacles. But, once the Light shines, hope appears. Once you see the shore, you begin to row again and believe. Once the Voice from heaven breaks the silence, life breaks forth.
This post Christmas season is a season of celebration that Light has come. God has not left us as orphans but has come to us. Darkness has not overcome us for long but instead, “The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5). No matter your pain, your loss, your fear, your sin, God has broken into the darkness of life with the Light of life, His Son Jesus Christ. No matter the situation, Jesus Christ the Light of life is here to save, to rescue, to usher in the reign and rule of God.
As I watched the Capitol Building in Washington DC get ransacked and our political leaders run for protection and safety, I prayed and asked God to send His Light into that darkness. As I prayed and discussed hope and life eternal at a funeral I officiated at last week, God reminded me that He specializes in invading darkness with His Light. He specializes in bringing love into hate, life into death, healing into brokenness. We see behind the manger of Christmas, the Cross and empty tomb of Jesus Christ, Light into darkness.
Please join with me as I pray one of our great Anglican prayers for this hurting pandemic world and painfully saddened country.
O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us
through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole
human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which
infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us;
unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and
confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in
your good time, all nations and races may serve you in
harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ
our Lord. Amen.