LIGHTING THE CANDLE
For God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness”, made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.
2 Corinthians 4:6
It is a frosty Advent night as Martin Luther trudges homeward through deep snow. His mind is caught up with weighty matters of ministry when he is suddenly overcome by the beauty of the woods around him. Luther sees, as if for the first time, fir trees decorated with fresh snow, and stars glimmering like diamonds in a dark sky.
Luther longs to share the wonder of what he sees with his wife and family. Even a wordsmith like Luther does not have words to describe what he sees, so he goes for an ax. Luther hurriedly returns to the woods, chops down a fir tree, and lugs it home to his surprised family. He melts wax on some tree branches in order to fasten taper candles to them. Wanting to make this a teachable moment for his family, Luther points to the tree branches, ever green through a cold winter. Luther explains how they represent never-ending eternal life in Jesus. The candles burning on the branches, he says, symbolize God’s true Light, Jesus, shining in the darkness. Behold, the world’s first Christmas tree!
In today’s scripture, the apostle Paul tells of God’s wondrous Light on display in Christ Jesus. Paul takes us back to the Genesis creation story when darkness covered the earth. Then, in submission to God’s powerful and creative word, light overwhelms the darkness.
Notice how Paul compares the light of the Genesis creation to the Light of God’s new creation in us when He commands, “Let light shine out of darkness.” Paul explains that it is through Christ Jesus that God turns on the light in people’s lives. Into the darkness of our lives God shines “the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” When God shines His Light, there is a new creation. God makes everything different; God lightens the darkness. The old things have passed away, and all things made new (2 Corinthians 5:17).
The Bible promises that God will shine His light and life into anyone who looks to Jesus. God will speak again the powerful, creative words, “Let there be light.” As God speaks His powerful command, His light shines into our darkness, and our darkness cannot overcome it. We become God’s new creation.
Our son Rhett, born prematurely, immediately developed jaundice. Rhett’s pediatrician told us not to worry, as he would shine the “Jesus Light” on Rhett. “Why do you call it the Jesus Light?”, I asked. “Oh, we call it the Jesus Light because it works miracles.” Let’s invite the Jesus Light to shine on us this Advent, and watch for the miracles He will do for us and through us!
PALMS DOWN/PALMS UP
Lord Jesus, we come to you as our Creator and our Redeemer, asking for your light to shine on us today, and on our dark world. Drive away the clouds of darkness and fear. Fill us with your light and show us the way ahead. Amen.