“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light.”Isaiah 9:2
Before there is light, there is darkness – uncreated, unformed – and yet it is from the formless darkness that emerges the light of new life.
We cannot ignore the darkness that the people of Israel – that we are living in as we wait for the unquenchable light of Jesus’ return.
In the days we live in, we don’t need to engage with the dark like our ancestors did; we have electric lights to elongate our days, allowing us to work longer, sleep less and detach ourselves from the rhythm of nature in a way that generations before was impossible. So the first step in facing the darkness; is accepting its presence, acknowledging the sin and the evil that we would wish to airbrush out of our lives.
The world is dark, sometimes it feels as if it grows darker with every passing year as wars and rumours of wars, poverty and deception seem to rule.
As Fleming Rutledge writes:
“[Advent] encourages us to resist denial and face our situation as it really is.”
In the dark, we have to admit that we don’t know it all, we have to admit that there are cracks in our facade, healing that hasn’t happened yet, sins that we don’t know how to bring into the light.
The good news is that God does not abandon the darkness in creation- and he doesn’t abandon the darkness in us – instead he puts boundaries around it.
There is night and dark, yes – but there is also light and day.
In the Northern hemisphere, Advent happens in the darkest days, the longest nights of the year, but they lead to the winter solstice which changes the direction of our days back towards the light.
And yet, in accepting the reality of our present darkness, we can also find the treasures that we might miss among the bright lights.
Darkness isn’t to be demonised – because even here – God came. He experienced the darkness of Mary’s womb through Jesus and he returned to his body in the pitch black of a sealed tomb.
In Isaiah 45 we are promised treasures in the darkness – but these treasures can only be found when we know the God who brought forth light and boundaried the dark.
“I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name.”
Advent tells us that the darkness is real, it tells us to face up to the darkness; but it also tells us that it will not rule, it will not have the final word – because God himself reaches into the darkness, placing his treasure there and never failing to bring forth new life.
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