Scotland has just enjoyed its sunniest November since records began, according to a BBC article published earlier this month. An incredible 65.8 hours of sunshine. Living this far north of the equator during winter – this light makes all the difference!
The first words that God speaks in the Bible are, “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3 NIV). Into the darkness, into the chaos, God speaks and light appears. Light is the first of many things in these opening verses of the Bible that God declares to be good. In a world gone wrong, where there is so much darkness, it is important to remind ourselves that light is a constant reminder, in every day, of the goodness of God’s creative work – God’s gift of overflowing, abundant life. As each new day begins, the sun comes up. Light comes, life comes. And it is good.
Sunny days are welcome in the shorter days of winter. The same is true of life. In a world where, in so many places, darkness overwhelms nations and lives, we long for the coming of light: an end to war, to injustice, to suffering, to poverty, to hunger. Beyond the global headlines, our own lives also cry out for light – those places and circumstances in our lives where darkness has overshadowed us, and light seems far way.
John’s Gospel does not begin with the traditional Christmas stories. Instead, John starts with the eternal story of God breaking in, with light, to our world and our lives. John reminds us, with words that need to constantly ring from our hearts and our lips in faith and protest at a world gone wrong.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5 (NIV)
God is the source of all light and life and He is in control – the darkness will not win. John tells us that in the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God steps into His creation with the mission to bring light and life to all.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. John 1:9 (NIV)
As we look out into God’s creation this Christmas, let us affirm, with God, all that is good. But where darkness threatens to overwhelm, either on the global stage or in our own story, let us remember that God has spoken, giving us light and life. God’s work and purposes, God’s gift of life, is not overcome by the darkness. But best of all, God Himself comes still at Christmas – and throughout the year – bringing light to everyone, bringing light to the darkest of circumstances we might face.
Light, you see, makes all the difference!
O little town of Bethlehem, how still we see thee lie!
Above thy deep and dreamless sleep the silent stars go by.
Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting Light;
The hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight.
Phillips Brooks, 1867.
Head of Bible Engagement