What is your favorite part of this time of year? Some would say "the shopping;" I'm glad because I like to receive gifts! Some enjoy cooking; I'm thankful because I like to "sample" all the Christmas goodies. Some might say they enjoy the children's programs, many would say they enjoy family gatherings; still others would say they enjoy decorating. I have not met very many people though who enjoy the colder temps, the snow or the shortened hours of daylight.
There is something about it beginning to get dark around 4 p.m. that bodes against many of us. Darkness this time of year can seem ominous, especially on cloudy days. Darkness brings with it many concerns relating to depression, safety and assurance. For the elderly there are heightened concerns of falling, and for everyone there is a greater concern of violence.
The Bible associates darkness with evil and the propagators of evil, Satan and his workers. When Isaiah Chapter 9 was written, Israel's light had gone out. They were God's chosen nation; he had chosen them from among all the peoples to be light to the rest of the world.
Pastor Duane Deckert
We learn from 2 Corinthians 3:7 that God gave Israel his glorious light the Ten Commandments. The law was God's light shining to preserve his chosen people. It was God's way of protecting his followers and keeping them from things like worshipping other gods, adultery, theft and generally preserving all the good that God wants to bestow on his people.
The law faded in its importance as people decided they were only 10 suggestions instead of God's light to them. Darkness began to prevail to the point where God seemed to wring his hands in disgust similar to the way a parent wrings their hands when they don't know how to respond to their disobedient children.
In the midst of the darkness, when God wrings his hands toward his children, he also wipes his eyes because he loves them so much. He then gives a message for the prophet Isaiah to proclaim:
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"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." (Isaiah 9:2) The message continues in a second verse, "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).
Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus said, "I have come as a light to shine in this dark world, so that all who put their trust in me will no longer remain in the dark" (John 12:46).
My favorite part of this time of year is all the lights. They remind me of the light of Jesus that shines even when the days are short, and the nights are long; even when the news is disheartening and the echoes of the flood disconcerting.
The darkness reminds me of the many people who are living without the light of Christ in their hearts this Christmas and those who have allowed disruption to darken Christ's light and I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light.
I love the Christmas lights because they are a great reminder of Christ's light shining to a dark world and shining in my own heart. May you enjoy the LIGHT of Christmas.
Pastor Duane Deckert is pastor of Bible Fellowship Church in Minot.