I’m thrilled to have a guest post this week from Lucy Rycroft, who’s just written a wonderful series of Advent reflections called “Redeeming Advent” Thanks Lucy!
Where is the Light of the World?
December is not far off, and already I’m feeling anxious.
There’s so much to do, so many presents to buy, so many conversations to have, so many relationships to navigate. I can’t keep up with my current to-do list, let alone the fifty-thousand additional jobs I know are coming my way.
And Christmas Day will bring with it an onslaught of plastic, to clutter my home and give me even more guilt about my family’s impact on the planet. Just whispering the words Pinterest and Instagram brings me out in a cold sweat.
Who made it this complicated? Who decided we all needed a bit more stress at the end of the year?
What happened to Jesus, the tiny baby wrapped in simple cloths? There was no M&S party food in Bethlehem, no coordinated Christmas lights, no conflicting Nativity-play schedules.
I want to celebrate the Light of the World – but the celebrations, which seem to ramp up each year, are shrouding my being with the darkness of overwhelm, of anxiety, of panic and depression.
Where is the Light of the World in my dark mind? Who will notice the light of a small baby when our planet is so huge and so dark?
In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (John 1:4)
Jesus came as a small baby, but don’t be deceived: in that small frame was God’s resurrection power: the power that would one day defeat evil forever by bringing himself back to life.
When we suffer, when we struggle, when the powers around us seem to threaten life, we know that they can’t – not forever, not eternally – because Jesus has already defeated them.
The light shines in the darkness… (John 1:5a)
It seems obvious, doesn’t it? I mean, where else would you want a light? But we forget, maybe, that Jesus never abandons us when we’re going through our darkest times.
In years to come, we may see a ‘point’ to our suffering. We may see that it grew our character, drew us closer to God, helped us empathise with others. Or we may wonder why we had to go through it at all.
This we know: Jesus is with us, right there in the darkness – listening, holding, being. Immanuel.
…and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:5b)
Perhaps Jesus, Light of the World, doesn’t seem so bright in our lives right now. Perhaps he feels like a flickering candle flame, in danger of reaching the end of its wick before we’ve found daylight.
However dimly the Light of the World seems to be shining right now, we know it is still infinitely brighter than the darkness. Why? Because the darkness is not powerful enough to overcome it.
The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. (John 1:9)
He has come! There is light, there is hope, there is a way out of the mess and the chaos of our lives.
“Advent tells us that the tragedies of this life are not supposed to bring us down, but to make us look up, waiting and hoping more desperately for a future in which destruction, lies, corruption, ill-health and death don’t exist.” (Redeeming Advent, Day 1)
As we suffer, we look up – to Jesus, Light of the World, our only hope. We cry out “Lord, come!”
This is the Advent cry: not of one who is comfortable in this life, who sees no need for Jesus – but of one who is deeply distressed, who knows Jesus is the answer this world needs.
So as we approach Advent, it’s OK to cut out the noise, the fuss, the overspending, the hand-made everything, the Pinterest perfection, and the latest craze in family Advent traditions.
By pruning the chaotic edges of our lives, we clear a path for Jesus. We hear his voice, we feel his presence – and, bit by bit, the Light of the World appears brighter.
Read more on this in Redeeming Advent, Day 20: “When the Light of the World Feels Insignificant”.