Zechariah, father of John, who will be called the Baptist and a surprise to both his parents, somehow was able to identify the Light that would be carried by his baby son:
By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in shadow of death, to guide our feet in to ways of peace. (Luke 1: 78-79)
The darkness is still present. It has been a tough week in my little world and community–brokenness, illness, promises deferred or denied, things that loom or appear like a sock in the jaw. All is unsettled, all is decidedly not bright. And yet not all!
I am looking for the Light as it appears, and it popped up in amazing places. There is a woman who has been working slowly for institutional change for over five years, against every kind of dysfunction and petty sniping. The statistics that are now on display to her world are that her work has effected a change in her department from single digits to a 90% success rate for the graduates! Light has dawned! There are the pastors who have endured many grueling rounds of what Presbyterians claim as a call process, and this month two of them have received calls from highly unlikely congregations. More Light! I have heard of the strong mending of the fabric of a community, torn by meanness and lies, now on its way to making amends, comforting one another with tidings of joy, and stretching out to the community in which God has placed them. There are tinier, but no less powerful points of light in children overcoming challenges at school, in aging ones finding ways to navigate their physical diminution, in hopeful conversations and agreements made between parties that had been at swords point, in justice being achieved for those who have been excluded and marginalized for so long!. Light continues to break forth!
I find that I most often am able to see the Light in the company of others. In her short Christmas story, Giovanni’s Light, Phyllis Theroux describes the dark of a December morning from the eyes of a small boy, hoping for love and warmth:
It was only 5 a.m. Sitting up in bed, he looked out the window. Everything was moon-colored, except for Old Rag (the mountain), whose flanks were dark against the sky. Suddenly a pinprick of light flashed halfway up the mountain. Someone else was awake, too. (Chapter 2).
I see the Light beginning to break because others point it out to me, and invite me to rejoice with them, in hope, in love and in faith. Advent’s beginning in the dark is not to be endured alone. We are in this together, and I need others with eyes in back of my head, younger more focused eyes, older but wiser eyes, to see what I cannot see, and point me in the direction of the dawn from on high. And we can be glad and hopeful together.
An old hymn from an old hymnal with words from the 18th C. poet, William Cowper visits me this Advent Day:
Sometimes a light surprises the Christian while she sings; it is the Lord who rises with healing in His wings; when comforts are declining, He grants the soul again a season of clear shining to cheer it after rain.
I declare myself to be open to surprise, to look for Light, and to share the season of clear shining with those I am invited to love and with whom I watch!