“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.” Isaiah 9:2-7
One of my very favorite Christmas traditions is singing “Silent Night” by candlelight at the Christmas Eve service. The accompaniment slowly fades away as the voices of the congregation rise. The light spreads throughout the sanctuary one candle at a time. Every eye twinkles with the candlelight and with the joy that Christmas has come. But, of all my experiences with Christmas candlelight services, one that was most precious to me was the Christmas Eve on which my oldest child was old enough to hold his own candle for the first time.
As the light moved from candle to candle, my son suddenly realized he would be receiving a candle, too. He was old enough now. Old enough to hold a candle safely, but still young enough to hold the light gingerly and tentatively. He studied the flickering light with wide and wonder-filled eyes; I studied his face with a wide and wonder-filled heart.
Somewhere along the line, the light had been shared with me. In this moment, I could tangibly see the opportunity I was being given to share that light with my child.
Anne Lamott, in her wise and witty chapter about why she brings her son Sam to church, said that she brought him with her because “I want to give him what I found in the world, which is to say a path and a little light to see by.” She continues, “Most of the people I know who have what I want…follow a brighter light than the glimmer of their own candle; they are part of something beautiful.”
Into a world fraught with anxiety and despair, the light came.
Into the darkness of night, the light came.
Into a time and a place that seemed hopeless, the light came and brought hope.
The chaos of the world was stilled by the birth of a child—the Child—who would bring the light that could never be overcome.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
And that light has been extended to each one of us.
We are given little lights to see by, and those lights begin to grow as we realize that we are a part of something brighter than ourselves. We are a part of something beautiful.
On this Christmas Eve, we rejoice because the Light has come, and we eagerly await the day when the Light will come once more. But in the meantime, let’s share the light with each other. Let’s speak with kindness and compassion. Let’s act with hope and love. Let’s look into each other’s eyes and see the wonder once more, the wonder of having our own lights to shine.
It still amazes me – after all these years of hearing the story of Christmas—the lengths to which God would go to shine light into our world and our hearts. It amazes me that the Creator would pass that light on to me, and invite me to share joy and hope and love and peace in the corner of the world where I find myself.
On this night—be it a silent one or one where we are straining to hear—may we hear the good news that our Light has come and God’s glory is shining all around us. Glory that gives us a path and a little light to see by.