Out of the darkness...
2 Corinthians 4:6 New International Version (NIV)
6 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
As a child, my friends and I would love to play a game of hide and seek and chase in the dark of the night. Sometimes (if our parents didn't know), we would play it in the church cemetery, other times it might be at the edge of a woods or just in one of our yards. We would divide into two teams, one with quite a bit fewer people than the other. The team with fewer people would hide. After a few minutes, the other team, who would have flashlights for the hunt, would begin to chant, "Midnight, stars are bright, Hope I see a ghost tonight.." That became the signal for the two teams to begin to hunt each other - the ghosts hoping to capture others to join them, while themselves avoiding being caught in the light.
There was something about playing this game at night, with the darkness looming that brought an air of mystery, danger, suspense, and a dose of fear. And, yet, there was something even more comforting about being caught in the light and brought back to the whole.
We have a bit of a love-hate relationship with darkness. It pulls us, it frightens us, it entices us, and it repels us. The darkness makes our fears larger and, yet, it hides us and gives us a sense security that we cannot be seen. Then we see a light. Like moths to a flame, we, also, are pulled to the light, often standing at the outskirts or at the edges, wanting to enter the fullness of the light, but afraid.
Slowly, we become bold enough to enter into the light. As we come, it reveals what has been hidden - fears, stains, misdeeds, and all. While we want to stay in the light, a part of us wants the comfort and anonymity of the darkness. Just as we are prepared to flee, a voice cries out and welcomes us, accepting us just the way we are. In an instant, the warmth of the light reaches into our depths and we do not want to leave.
So it is when Jesus enters into our lives. His light beckons us as we timidly approach and, ashamed, see all of the stains of sin in our lives as we know in our hearts we are not worthy.. Jesus takes that shame we feel and drenches it with his cleansing light. With open arms he welcomes us and makes us feel safe and more important, that we belong in the light.
This is the gift of Advent. The knowledge that the light that came into the world welcomes us and prepares us by taking our sin and shame and replacing it with the assurance we are known and loved. May we truly experience this hopeful Advent gift and share it with others.