“On every world, wherever people are, in the deepest part of the winter, at the exact mid-point, everybody stops and turns and hugs, as if to say, well done. Well done, everyone. We’re halfway out of the dark.”  (Kazran Sardick, Doctor Who: A Christmas Carol)

Light is a significant theme running through Christmas celebrations, whether in the form of electric lights on the tree, candles on the windowsill, or the star shown on the cards we send.  For those of us living in the dank and dark of a northern hemisphere winter, this represents a boost to our flagging midwinter morale, but the theme of midwinter light wasn’t invented by cold and wet Europeans.  It precedes us by millennia.

The highlight of many Christmas services is the first 14 verses of John’s gospel, including the key incarnation verse:

The true light that gives light to everyone came into the world.

(John 1:9)

This is the mystery of the incarnation: that God who is light himself (1 John 1:5), who created light in the first place (Genesis 1:3), and who will be forever the only source of light in the new Jerusalem (Revelation 22:5), came into the world he created, to bring us the eternal light of his presence.  We no longer need to pray the ancient collect “Lighten our darkness, we beseech thee, O Lord” for he has already done it!  We people who walked in darkness have seen a great light! (Isaiah 9:2)

And he continues to do it, even in the darkness of this present age.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overcome it (John 1:5).  Bringing his light into our lives, Jesus enables us to shine like stars (Philippians 2:15).  He makes us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14), as we blogged about nine Christmases ago.

At this time of year, we often send cards and greetings to one another, praying for the light to come into each other’s lives or commending the light to them.  Perhaps a more appropriate prayer would be that we would shine the light so brightly that those living in darkness will be attracted to it.

May the light of Jesus be in you, and shine out of you, this Christmas!

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