During these last several weeks of Advent we have anticipated, with excitement, the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We know the stories from Scripture about the angels speaking to Mary, the mother of God and to Joseph her spouse. The angels speaking to Elizabeth and Zechariah
, the parents of John the Baptist. Both couples are told their children will be special in the ways of the
It seems that the world is awaiting someone special. It is as if all know that there is a light coming into the world.
Isaiah says “O’ house of Jacob, come; let us walk in the light of the Lord!” Paul says “…the day is at hand…put on the armor of light.” Matthew says “For you do not know on which day your Lord will come.” So be prepared. Isaiah says “On that day, a shoot will sprout from the stump of Jessie.” “On that day, the root of Jesse… will be set up as a signal…”
And yet on this day when we expect Jesus, the Light of the World to appear in glory, we do not see him born in a grand palace but in the darkness of an animal shed and laid in a manger; Isaiah says we are a people who has walked in darkness; Luke says that Shepherds are keeping a night watch. There is a star in the night sky. And, that King Ahaz’s life is filled with the ferocity and anger that
comes from that dark place deep inside. A place without hope in God.
Advent can be a struggle between light and dark. Good and Bad. Right and Wrong. We think it leads to light and yet tonight we sit in the dark…the world is dark. Everyone is caught off guard. God chooses to act in a way that astonishes us. Lowly shepherds, animals, angels, angry kings, soldiers who trample the poor
And tonight, even though it is dark, the story is what gives us that glimmer of light. A light we need to see the future as one where we are protected, loved, cared for and rested in the arms of one like Mary, who did the same things with the child Jesus.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this says Isaiah. A child is born, a son is given. “Do not be afraid” say the angels to shepherds who hear them praise God by saying “Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.
It could be that darkness was only something we were afraid of when we were little, not knowing, yet, there is a God out there who will rescue us from the darkness of this world and bring us into his marvelous light.
This is the night we grow in holiness and grace when we look for and finally make the choice to hear the angels speak of light. It starts out as a glimmer of hope and ends up where we are tonight: in the light of the Lord: overshadowed by it and sent forth into the night to share with others. It spreads and grows because we are no longer a people who live in darkness; for we have seen a great light; no
more living in the land of gloom for a light has shone. Tomorrow, praise the light as the first gift we receive, for tonight God enters this world in a way suspected by no one; and then let us all be astonished, for our Advent is over and we can now begin to live the next part of the story, the story of this night and all the nights to come.