Tuesday, December 3, 2013

When the light of the season feels heavy

It keeps coming back to light and darkness, joy and pain, and I realize how both good and bad are linked, drawing us into this season of Advent.  We wait joyfully, expectantly, to celebrate (again) the birth of Jesus, but no birth is without pain, tears, or mess.  We long for rebirth and renewal because of the darkness, the brokeness we all feel.  We grieve, with empty spaces around the table and within our hearts. We carry the heavy burdens of packages we can't afford, years of regret, and the thoughts of those we know who are suffering.  We need to lighten our load.  We search for the light, but fear that the darkness might overcome us.

Christmas is in the dead of winter for a purpose.  When the days are short, dark, and cold, we needed a real reminder that what we see is just a surface reality.  Beyond the ordinary time we experience is the world of miracles, where a baby born to a poor young mother would be the Messiah, an event that called wise men to leave the familiar and journey to give precious gifts to a lowly one that would one day be called a King, a shepherd born among real and smelly sheep.

We sing songs of peace and joy, realizing that these are already within us, just as Christ is with us.  We light candles of hope, peace, joy, and love to remember the gifts that God gives us through Christ, the lights that reveal to us that the darkness will not win.  We light our candle from the Christ candle and go forth to be lights of the world.   We seek the light from a star that will draw us ever forward into the Kingdom of God, which is among us.  We celebrate what we have know, but what is also made new to us again each year.

So we hold our light higher, knowing that the darkness still lingers, but that the light pushes it back.  We celebrate in joy, knowing that love has already won and that we are held in its embrace.  Now that we remember that we are beloved, we are ready to face the world and be love.

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