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Devotion 9 - 16 Dec 2012

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Luke 1:79 - “ shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death…

God is Not Afraid

of the Dark

Last week the world heard of devastating events that took place in Connecticut, USA. The senseless, cruel and unimaginable acts of one young man, who murdered innocent school children, teachers – and then finally also took his own life. There are no words to describe the darkness of what happened in those moments; but perhaps words aren’t even necessary… For we all somehow know something of the pain, the loss, the dark reality of those events. We don’t need words to describe an experience that we all (on some level) share in and know the effects of.

However, what some folks have commented on is the strange irony of the fact that these events (and so many other devastating events) took place during this time of year – a time that should be joyous and celebratory, expectant of good things and hopeful of peace. And it’s in light of this observation that I want to spend a brief moment reflecting on one verse from Luke’s Gospel: chapter 1 verse 79.

At this point Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, is singing of what his son would one day do; that he would prepare the way and announce the arrival of the long-expected Messiah. Whom, Zechariah sings will come from heaven “to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death…” (Luke 1:79)

One of the truths about Christmas that all too often neglect is the simple reality that Christ came as light of the world into darkness, he came as life into the shadow of death, he came as peace into violence and cruelty, he came as Saviour to a world that was lost. It is odd that we should be uncomfortable with these realities during Christmas time, because Christmas is precisely for such realities. Christmas is not only for the jolly and hopeful and joyous and expectant; it is (perhaps even primarily) for those who are lost in darkness, struggling under violence and cruelty, suffering through the experience of death and loss and in need of a Saviour. We need not be afraid of these realities during Christmas, avoiding them so we don’t offend or spoil the mood; in fact we should face and embrace these realities and proclaim the message of Christmas in the midst of them – that Christ is the One who came in order to “shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death.”

Christmas is for the families in Connecticut; Christmas is for the mothers and fathers who lost their children and for the children who lost their parents and teachers; Christmas is for the Father who cannot be with his family because he has to work; Christmas is for the divorcee who has to spend her first Christmas without the kids, Christmas is for the widow who can’t imagine not having her companion and lover with her during Christmas; Christmas is for all who think it isn’t for them… May the light of Christ shine in the midst of our darkness and drive out all fear, because we know… God isn’t afraid of the dark.

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