JOY --- Jesus On the JourneY

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Light of the World, He Stepped Out into Darkness . . .

are the words to one of my favorite songs.  . . . and something I heard as I drove to school this week -- "unless you let him love you, you've missed the whole point of Christmas." personalized the message for me.

I've experienced Him loving me  this season as He gave me some presents uniquely mine.  One was Bethany telling us about Campbell finishing their bedtime prayers with a hearty "AMEN" --  they didn't know she knew the word when she piped up in full volume.  The peeked at her and saw her folding her hands. Precious!
Seeing her grow so beautifully is another gift . . .

C's play group delivered Christmas cards they made to the nursing home -- aaaah precious!
We go to all the pageants, we read the Christmas story to our children -- and the whole liturgy of advent centers around The Story.
This year I broke the story apart as I taught my Super Kids in Sunday school ...  there were four angel visits, three sets of travelers, two major miracles - with two very unlikely pregnancies, two stunned daddies and two beautiful babies born with their names chosen by someone other than their parents, and a significant cast of animals in this story.  I even made it into a Bible game to help them remember.  But did the people living at that time even have a clue what was taking place?  .  As always and typical of me,  I have a few questions. . .
What were the angels in Heaven thinking as they saw this unfold?  We know the words that the angels out in the field were singing . . . but what did they experience from the heavenlies?  How they must have missed Him those years He was here with us. . . or did His omnipresence keep Him there with them and here with us?
Did anything seem unusual to the Innkeeper the next morning?  Did he have a clue that God had been born out back in his barn?  That he had God with him in that feeding trough?

When the Wise Men left the house after visiting Jesus -- did they know they had seen God, come to stay?

The Angel told Mary that He was to be named Emmanuel-- God With Us-- doesn't that bring comfort and light to your world?    Doesn't that pierce your darkness.  God come to stay -- not just visit.

The earth-shaking miracle of this whole event was that for the first time -- EVERYONE would have Him up close and personal --LIVING in them.  The Old Testament heroes (prophets, high priests, and special patriarchs) had their one-on-one encounters with the Omniscient One from time to time.  Moses got close enough to see God's back and then his face shone for many days -- but in this one instance HE brought HIMSELF to ALL OF US.  The world was pretty dark and bleak at that time after 400 years of silence from the prophets ... They needed the LIGHT.

Our 24-hour news coverage bombards us with stories of  heinous crimes against children as well as the neglect caused by drugs and substance abuse. We see our country becoming less and less a nation founded on faith in God and more and more a materialistic, secular and capitalistic country.  The light is being obscured by the darkness that is increasing.

Nathan, one of my Youth Alive leaders made powerful illustration of that Thurs at our Youth Alive lunch in my classroom.

My room has no windows and it is pitch black when you flip the switch.
He lit a few large candles to keep people safe and enable them to find their food - and handed everyone a birthday candle.  One-by-one the room illuminated into a beautiful glow as approximately 100 students touched their candle to a surrounding one.  He said that as we bring our light -- the fire that God has lit in us -- alongside someone else's -- we create a much brighter glow -- when our's dims -- or even goes out momentarily- our friend helps it to flame again.. .and interestingly, the more of HIS light we have -- the more clearly we see each other.
As they all blew out the candles in the room and we sat in bleak, total darkness -- it was a powerful example of what we would be without HIS LIGHT.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.  2 Cor. 4:6

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