As a small girl, I feared the dark, dreading bedtime - the long walk down the hall to my bedroom where I would have to lay alone in my little bed far from the comforting presence of my Mom and Dad. My mother understood and provided me with a tiny night light we named "Friend."
It became, for me, a trusted friend whose soft light illuminated the dark corners where all the frightening, imagined dangers hid - dispelling the fears and bringing with it a quiet peace.
I'm all grown up now, and no longer dread bedtime. On the contrary, there's nothing like sinking into my comfortable bed at the end of a long day. I breath a contented sigh as I pull the warm covers up to my chin and close my eyes - no longer afraid of the darkness that closes in.
However, there still exists a darkness that can overwhelm the bravest of hearts. We live in times of deep darkness. Our world is full of unrest and very real danger. We are pitted against one another in every possible way. Words have become weapons to hurt and destroy. Truth, more frightening than all the rest, has become subjective - a sort of do-it-yourself way of living. We stumble like those who are blind reaching for something to hold onto and feeling for a solid place to stand.
Light. We long for a light to show us the way - to dispel the darkness.
It is not unique to our time. Through countless ages the darkness has tried to overshadow the light. For those living in Israel over two thousand years ago it seemed like darkness would win. Heaven had been silent for 400 years - the people oppressed by Roman rule. They longed for the light of hope - for someone to deliver them and make everything right.
On a cold December night a gentle, humble Light broke through the darkness. He shone into a world filled with pain and suffering and sorrow bringing the promise of life and peace and hope. The darkness would never overcome it. It shines for us still:
"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned." Isaiah 9:2
"Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
Wonder of wonders that Light, like the passing of a torch, has been given to those who have received the One True Light. Called to shine into the darkness, they bring the light of life to all who will believe.
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven." Matt. 5: 14-16