A Light Shines in the Darkness
It is a perfect paradox that Advent comes for us, at the darkest and coldest time of the year. This Sunday, the third week of Advent, we will light, impossibly, it seems, the candle of joy. A small flame in a dark world. Just as the days are at their bleakest and shortest, scripture says:
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Isaiah 35:1
This is the two-fold challenge of faith. We are called to see the world as it really is, to mourn with those who mourn, to grieve with those who grieve. Scripture does not sugarcoat the truth, often pointing honestly to the hard realities of life, and the brokenness that is pervasive, even inside ourselves.
And yet there is hope. Joy is promised and can be found. Sometimes when we have no words to offer, and when our hard questions are returned with no easy answers, we nonetheless break into songs of praise. Somehow this season holds beauty and brokenness together. In their midst, promises are ours for the taking.
St. James reminds us:
See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. James 5:7
The poet, singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, spoke of these things in the final album released before his death in 2016.
If you are the dealer, I’m out of the game
If you are the healer, it means I’m broken and lame
If thine is the glory then mine must be the shame
You want it darker
We kill the flame
Magnified, sanctified, be thy holy name
Praise and lament, glory and sadness. These are the elements of the perfect paradox that is the Advent season.
John the Baptist too, our old friend, sat in a prison cell, wondering if all was lost, sent his loyal disciples to find out if Jesus truly was the One promised long ago. They returned with these words:
The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” Mathew 12:5
During this third week of Advent we again find that a light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not (will not) overcome it.
~Pastor Mike Middaugh