Reading from the commemoration of Lucy, Virgin and Martyr
The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.
He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. – John 1:9-13
Wintertime is a season of short days and long, cold nights. The evergreens show spots of color against the snow and the bare brown-black trunks and bare branches of the trees that not long ago were covered in gloriously colored leaves. Those days are gone, and it will be some time before the days grow longer, the sun warmer and the first bright green buds begin to show that the trees and bushes have come to life once again. But until then, we huddle inside as our ancestors did, around a fire in the fireplace or stove, if we happen to have one, but with electric lights forming an artificial daylight inside the houses.
We don’t do well with darkness. It has always been a time of unease and even fear. Bad things seem to happen more often at night, and even as adults, some of us still look for the nightlights we had as children. Even with a tiny bit of light, the fear seemed to go away or at least become more manageable.
John’s gospel describes a light coming into the world, enlightening it and all who are in it. Yet people didn’t recognize the light, even though it had been present since before the world was made. The light had the power of a billion suns yet was contained in a small, newborn child just like every other newborn child, helpless and dependent on the care of others..
We look around us and surely, night by night, more white and colored lights appear, decorating eaves and roofs, doors and windows, even trees and fences. The night-world becomes a bit brighter in the midst of winter, and even one small candle in a window can be a beacon of hope. Somehow, they make the darkness and the cold more bearable.
What we need to remember is the light whose birth we spend Advent planning and waiting for. What we sometimes don’t realize is that we ourselves can be candles, small ones, perhaps, but still potential lights in a window that will bring peace, hope and love to someone who struggles in the dark. We can’t be The Light of which John spoke, but we can be pinpoints of light for a world in dire need.
Where can we shine our light today? It doesn’t have to be a bonfire — even a tea light or votive candle will push back the darkness.