In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God;
all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Rich or poor in America, most of us string lights and sit around the tree during the holidays, perhaps a Christmas movie on television or carols playing on the stereo, glad for the season. Still, is there even one of us who cannot immediately call to mind someone we know, perhaps someone we love, in trouble, sick or grief-stricken, in prison or just in a dark place, emotionally? We all know people who are living in darkness so deep that lasers and night vision goggles won’t help at all. Some of us remember first-hand what it was like to be there. With the night comes cold in the desert, and we remember that, too. Cold, dark, lonely lives, in the midst of so much activity, sometimes in the lap of luxury, and too often hidden behind phony smiles or stand-offish natures. Souls saturated with that horrid feeling that nobody really knows who you are, where you are, and that nobody really cares.
That’s the whisper that darkness brings.
Light came into the world in Christ Jesus, but all was not merry or bright then, either. His job was not to make an eternal Christmas, but to shine in the darkness, and so is ours. That is our celebration during Advent. Light shines in the darkness, and light shines in us, not for display but to give light, to dispel darkness, that by our love toward others, our prayers for them, our generosity, forgiveness, our help and our hope, they may be warmed to the Gospel of Christ.
May God grant that the splendor of joy and the brilliant love of God will shine through us, with or without padded wallets, even if all that is seen is an enduring patience and a gentle heart.
Give us this gift this Christmas, O Lord, that we may bring our joy and our bounty into the lives of those around us. Help us to take advantage of opportunities, especially those unique to the season, help us to care, grant that we can fully enjoy our own Advent and Christmas, and all the more fully because we are finding ways to shine in the lives of those around us. Amen.
The Ghost of Christmas Present
John Leech, public domain, (100 years beyond death of the artist)