Saturday, December 23, 2017

December 23: Advent, Day Twenty One

Well fearless readers, we have just about made it: three weeks are in the books today! And Lord knows we’ve done a lot already. We have explored:

- Israel’s hopes through exile and up to Christ,
- how those hopes play out in the Christmas narratives,
- how God calls different people to play a role in fulfilling those hopes with him,
- what hopes are awaiting fulfillment today,
- and what those hopes should mean for us.

On top of all of that, I think I’ve given you some reasonably tough questions to think over. So today we’re all going to take a deep breath and relax just a bit. We’re going to turn to the Gospel of John (no, I didn’t forget it!) and one of the most beautiful poems in scripture . . .

John 1:1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4 in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8 He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9 The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

10 He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11 He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.

14 And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.


Many of you reading this post today are probably pretty tired. You might have been crunched to meet end of year deadlines, you’ve had a crazy schedule, you are traveling, you are preparing to deal with relatives . . . and the list goes on. For some of you tiredness is only the tip of the iceberg. You are hurting, grieving, and moving through the suffering we discussed yesterday. And you might be thinking, “John just goes on… and on… and on about this hope stuff, but I am just barely making it day to day.” So today is for you.

Today we remember that the hope that we cling to when all else falls away is a God who comes to his people in their pain. The God who created the universe, who ordered nature, and in fact holds up all existence by his very being is also a God who lived, and who still lives, among his people in the midst of their struggle. His light which shines in the darkness and his life which overcomes death are not held away from us. They are offered each moment to us, even as we see nothing but darkness around us. And as Jesus took on flesh to walk with God’s people then in the darkness, so he will dwell with us now.

The promise of Christmas is not that darkness and death will immediately leave our lives if we allow Jesus to dwell with us. The promise is that his light and life will outlast them, and ultimately overcome them. Our hope then is not to win the victory ourselves, but to keep holding on to him. As children trust in the hopes their parents give them, though they cannot conceive of how these hopes will be realized, so we are called to trust and hold to him.

Hold on to Jesus today however you can; in prayer, in community, in scripture, in song, in meditation, in service, in silence, in tears, or in lament. And remember that while his presence appeared so small and insignificant in the face of the darkness on that first Christmas, it is a presence which gives life and life to all, and a presence that will overcome all.

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