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Breaking through our darkness

December 21, 2015 No Comment
Rev.Dr. Robert Bugbee

Rev.Dr. Robert Bugbee

by Robert Bugbee

“The people walking in the dark will see a great light.” – Isaiah 9:2 AAT

When 2015 passes into the history books, it will not be remembered as a bright spot. Not in the world in general. And not in our church. As I write this, the world is reeling from the terrorist killing of 130 people in Paris. Earlier this year, countless families began fleeing the bloodshed in Syria and elsewhere. We all saw the pitiful photo of a little boy from one of those families lying lifeless on a beach. As winter sets in, multitudes are stumbling along on a road somewhere in Europe. Others are stuck in frustration—and maybe despair—at a border crossing now tightly closed in their faces.

While all that swirls around in a world approaching Christmas, I cannot help but think of the shock many people in our churches in western Canada experienced just after last Christmas. They learned that they may well have lost money they entrusted to their District. As of this moment, the situation remains tied up in a court process. For those depending on these funds to meet ongoing needs, the pain is obvious. For others who may be better off, there was a different heartache, a loss of trust in the church they dearly believed in throughout their lives. Still others, though not personally affected by the crisis, felt sorrow in watching the pain of friends and the turmoil this has set off.

It all seems so needless. It all wouldn’t have to be that way, if some people didn’t delight in violence, or if others had been quicker to see a financial crisis coming. It all wouldn’t have to be that way if the world were not so broken and fallen. It wouldn’t have to be that way if people—including you and me—were not sinners.

But that’s what we are. That’s given rise to so much of what causes us sadness. That’s what has turned our world—and sometimes even the church—into a dark place. 700 years before Jesus was ever born, God’s man Isaiah foretold that people “walking in darkness” would see a great light. These would be men and women stumbling about because of the sinful things others around them were doing, and because of the sinful things they themselves were constantly doing. These would be people in the dark because they couldn’t see a way of escape on their own. More than anything, people need “a great light.” That’s a light big enough to cut through the dark so you and I could see the way out, and the way forward.

More than anything, people need “a great light.” That’s a light big enough to cut through the dark so you and I could see the way out, and the way forward.

The New Testament announces that the promise published by Isaiah came true when Jesus took His place in our world and started preaching (Matthew 4:14-15). It’s not just that Jesus brings light. Jesus Himself is God’s light… aimed at you! Jesus, the Light, can shine on the dark mess of human sin and show it for what it is, a dead-end street that ruins you. Jesus, the Light, can shine forth and make clear that He’s the Lord’s way out of the dark, paying for your freedom by the death He died, and opening wide the road to relief that leads back to God again.

You probably know that Christmas was not scheduled on December 25 because anybody can prove this was the precise date of Jesus’ birth. However, the early believers felt that this point in the year was a splendid way of showing what Jesus is and gives. When the days are at their shortest and the darkness at its longest, that’s when we celebrate the love God showed by sending His Christ into our world. After all, you notice a candle’s light much more on a dark winter night than you ever would on a bright sunny day in the summer!

Jesus means to be that light for you… once again and brand-new… this Christmas. In those moments when you feel nearly engulfed by the darkness brought on by your own sins and failures and those of other people; in those moments when the whole “climate” out there in the world looks totally misguided and wrong, Bethlehem’s little Christ comes to shine His light into the dark. He’s ready to do it for people everywhere whose hearts are sore right now because of the violence and inhumanity of others. He’s ready to do it for people who have endured bitter disappointment, even in the church.

In those moments when you feel nearly engulfed by the darkness brought on by your own sins and failures and those of other people, Bethlehem’s little Christ comes to shine His light into the dark.

He’s ready to do it again for you, whoever you are, whatever darkness presses in on you. The apostle had it right: “The real light is already shining” (1 John 2:8 AAT). I pray that this Christmas will find you close to Him.

———————-

Rev. Dr. Robert Bugbee is President of Lutheran Church-Canada.

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