Light Shines Into The Night
Satan must love the night. He tries to make it his accomplice at every turn. Thieves and wrongdoers conceal their evil deeds in the darkness. Good judgment, wearied by a long day, erodes into unsteady choices that slide toward deep regret by the morning. The stillness and isolation create a void in our thoughts that quickly fill with anxiety and depression. The night feels dangerous in many ways.
It was no different 2,000 years ago, but God chose the night to make the first declaration of Jesus’ birth. It was a deliberate shot across the bow of that hopeless ship Satan helms; a bright tracer round that lit up the night with a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest!” The display reminded everyone that light and dark are not co-equals. Only the light can drive out the darkness and set the boundaries for the shadows. The best the darkness can do is obscure the light, but even then, a bright enough light will melt away any obstruction. And so it is with God. He has no equal. Satan and our own sinful hearts can try all they want but they will not thwart or even frustrate the plans of God.
If the angels in the sky were the shot across the bow, then the death and resurrection of Jesus mark the final torpedoes tearing through the ship below the surface. It is dead in the water and listing. It will not recover. It will sink. But sometimes it doesn’t look that way, especially in the night. We still see the silhouette of the ship on the horizon and at the right angle, it doesn’t even look like its listing. We swear that it might actually be gaining speed. The night is dark again and feels so long. We need some light to shine and show us the truth.
So each year, during this season of Advent, we prepare to shine a light once again on the truth. We prayerfully ready our canons, stuffing them with all of the hope of the promises of God that find their yes in Jesus. On Christmas, we will fire a volley over that vile vessel of hopelessness. It will be a brilliant display reminding those bent on wickedness that their doom is sure and offering the safety of the shore to any who would trust in Jesus. In the thundering of the canons, (or the ringing of the bells, I get the two confused) you will hear good news of great joy that will be for all the people, “Christ has come, and Christ will come again!”
Father, we are so often lost and without hope in the night because of unbelief. What we see before us appears to be more real than the truth of your word, so we trust our eyes, as dim as they are, instead of asking you to open our eyes. We did not see the angels in the sky and so we don’t believe that you sent your Son and when we don’t believe that you sent your Son, we cannot believe that you will send him again. Father, this is a great evil. And we know that if we in the church regard sin in our own midst, our prayers will be ineffectual, so we confess our individual sins to you now.