The Light in the Darkness
Yesterday was the first day of Advent and during her sermon my pastor looked over at the Advent wreath with its single flame and commented on the hope of knowing that similar candles are lit all over the world. She reminded the congregation that these candles we light—in addition to being festive—symbolize Christ’s presence in our midst; and there’s this great promise in scripture that the darkness cannot overcome this light.
For some reason, it’s easy for me to forget that this promise isn’t about good one day overcoming evil. It’s actually an invitation for me to step into the light. It’s probably just my terribly unbiblical Protestant work ethic getting in the way (as usual), but I really over-identify with the struggle in this picture. I experience so much brokenness—most recently in being hurt by the church—and my overwhelming desire is to hit back, to argue (futilely) that I am right and they are wrong. If I just worked a little harder, got a little angrier, I could finally fix the damn thing once and for all. It’s exhausting, not to mention incredibly unrealistic. (But seriously, for the record, I’m totally right. Not that it matters. But I am.)
I could, in my gleefully/sickeningly self-righteous anger, continue to live in the darkness. Or I can make a conscious decision to step away. In an effort to go with the latter, I’m making a commitment for the remaining 23 days of Advent: I will intentionally seek rest in the light. I’m a broken person in a broken world, but I am (we are all) invited to drag myself out of the darkness and collapse in this safe, bright space that is filled with Christ’s presence. I am invited to surrender this angry struggle and find grace instead. The Light can’t be overcome with darkness, so he will always be there. And it’s a standing invitation to healing. Which is a good thing, because I can tell you already I’m going to need to renew this commitment over and over again. Nonetheless, it’s worth a try (or several), because alternative is just far, far too dark.