Is the Christmas season a sad time of year for you? For those struggling with grief, illness or financial problems, the contrast of their feelings with the expectation of “good cheer” that comes with the season can be overwhelming. But there is another, more prosaic, reason you may be feeling a little blue: it’s DARK outside! All the time! Not only are the days shorter and shorter, but the hours when the sun should be shining are often cloudy and cold.
For years, everyone thought my father just got a little grumpy around the holidays. It turned out he (and some of his progeny) suffer from the aptly name S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) In other words, the chemicals in his brain are physically affected by the diminished light of winter. For those with S.A.D., it isn’t necessarily circumstances that bring on the blues – but the season itself!
How appropriate then – in the midst of the vast darkness of Ohio in winter – that we should hear the words of Zechariah’s prophecy concerning the coming Messiah (Luke 1:78-79): “By the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” A light is coming – a light that will shine in the darkness – a light the darkness can never overcome. The message of Advent is clear: Wait! Watch! Be alert! The light is coming. You may not see it yet. In fact, it may seem that the in the battle of light and dark, the darkness is winning. But Light is on its way. Hope will be born again. The One who comes to take away the sin of the world will slip quietly into a manger in the little town of Bethlehem. We sing, “No ear may hear his coming, but in this world of sin, where meek souls will receive him still, the dear Christ enters in.”
For you, the Christmas season and the dark days of winter may bring challenges on several fronts. But for those with eyes to see and ears to hear, we are not left without hope. Life preserving light will dawn. God will provide. Hope springs eternal.
Come home for Christmas this year. Even if the cold and dark haven’t given you the blues, the light of Christmas lives in the church like nowhere else. Come celebrate with us the Advent our Lord. No matter what it might look like outside, we live always in the light and joy of Jesus Christ.