When Darkness Falls on Christmas Night

The house is dark now. Presents have been given. Some received with an excited “you shouldn’t have!” Others opened with a quizzical “you shouldn’t have?” Wrapping paper collected and discarded in a lawn and leaf bag. The tree that once looked as if it were sitting in a sea of gifts now stands alone in the corner, lights dimly casting a glow into the stillness of the room.

The fun and laughter of the day has been replaced with sleepy eyes and “good nights.” I don’t like for this day to end. I want to hold onto Christmas as long as I can so I often stay up late into the darkness.

The late night reminds me that it was dark when Jesus entered our world too.

His people were governed by a foreign ruler. Many longed for someone to come and right their wrongs. They lived in dark times.

The nearby shepherds were watching their flock by night. Outsiders to the rest of the world. Their spirits felt the heaviness of the dark.

His own parents were young and in love. They were also poor. Their life would not be easy. They would live in the shadows of whispers and the darkness of rumors.

A king full of hatred would have innocent infants killed so that he could retain his throne. He would unleash a rampage of darkness.

Yes, it was dark when Jesus entered our world. Maybe that’s why John tells a different story about his birth. No manger scenes, no shepherds, no angelic visits or visions. He simply says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” That’s it. In an instant he “became flesh.” And it happened at night.

John wants us to know that this one who became flesh “was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” At night, after Christmas day is fading and another is coming, we can see his light if we pause long enough to look for it.

  • We see it in the campaign to give a boatload of money to a deserving mother who works a drive-through, spreading cheer to those she serves.
  • We see it in the glistening eyes of the parents who have their children home again and gathered around the table.
  • We see it in shoppers who stopped to hear the High School choir sing “O Holy Night.”
  • We see it in ourselves as we took our eyes off us and put them on others. Even if only for a short time.

It was dark when Jesus came and it is dark now. We’ll hear of more shootings of innocent victims. There will be more economic woes and broken government promises. The holidays will end and work will again pile up. Grace will be exchanged for greed.

But we have seen it. We have seen his light shining in our own darkness. 

Maybe I just need to remember one more time that the darkness—no matter how dark it may appear—has not overcome his light.

Maybe I just need to pray that the light we have seen this Christmas season will shine into the New Year.

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