Written by Brian Johnson
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness on them light has shined… For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:2,6
Into our darkness, God’s light shines. That is the story of Advent (the season leading up to Christmas) and Christmas. It is a story of hope coming to the world when all seems hopeless, of peace coming to a world full of violence, of joy breaking forth among those who have no reason for joy.
That sounds like just what we need this year. Getting through 2020 has been – well, it’s been a whole thing, right? There have been stretches of this year – days, weeks, months at a time – when it has felt as if the world was coming apart at the seams. There have been more changes than anyone could have possibly imagined. We’ve had to reinvent so much of what we do every day. And, many of us are still wondering if things will ever get back to normal.
And, so, this year, we need the story of Advent more than ever. It’s a story of something that happened two thousand years ago, but it’s also a story of something that God has promised to do again, in our lives – God promises to enter into our world, bring miraculous healing, transform our despair and frustration and disappointment and pain into an eternal joy. This season is a time to step back and remember that God is not done with this world. No matter what a mess we make of things, our mess doesn’t get the final word. No matter how broken the world seems, that brokenness doesn’t get the final world. No matter how chaotic and disappointing and less-than-what-we’d-dreamed this year has been, none of that gets the final word either. Christmas is a promise God’s love will always get the final word – it’s a reminder that God loves us enough not to leave us alone, not to leave us to our own devices – that God loves us enough to step down into our mess and save us.
This Advent, we are going to be taking some time to think about what this season of Advent and Christmas means – what difference it makes in our lives. This is going to be a weird Christmas for many of us – lots of our traditions are going to be disrupted, many of us are struggling with how to make Christmas feel special in the midst of our “new normal.” Like I said, it’s going to be weird. So, in the midst of this strange and yet holy season, we will be sharing daily Advent Devotionals – short passages, put together by the people of Haymarket Church – that are meant to help us center ourselves spiritually and focus on Jesus at the start of each day. These will include prayers, Scripture readings, stories about Christmas experiences, and more.
Today we start with a classic Christmas Scripture reading – one that we read on Christmas Eve every year – a passage from the Old Testament book of Isaiah that tells us of a child who is born to bring light into the world’s darkness. We Christians believe that that child is Jesus – that he brings the light of God’s love to overcome the darkness of this world’s hate, that he is the son who has been sent to bring us peace.
I wonder, as we come to the end of a difficult year, what parts of our world – and of your life – do you think could use a little bit more of God’s light? As we move into 2021 (it’s got to be easier than 2020, right?), where are you praying for light to shine and hope to emerge? As we sit here, in the afterglow of Thanksgiving, in what ways do you feel trapped in the dark? What parts of this world feel in need of the light of love? Today, and throughout this season, I invite you to be on the lookout for places that could use a little more of God’s light, and I encourage you to ask for God to give it – to send Jesus, yet again, into our world, to give us the healing we so desperately need. Watch and pray that this Christmas season Jesus would be born into our lives yet again.
That’s the message of Advent. Hope has been born. Light is shining. God is on the move, and will set all things right. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it. Thanks be to God!
Prayer for Today: God, shine your light of love into my life, and teach me to reflect your light to all the dark places in the world. Amen.
If you miss any of our daily readings, you can find them archived here. (Readings will be added each day.) We hope these readings will help you encounter God this season!