The people walking in darkness have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned...
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Isaiah 9:2,6
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Luke 2:8-12
If you’ve walked down Buchanan Street in Glasgow recently you can’t fail to be struck by the lights outside Frasers. It’s the scale and the power of the lights, contrasted with the surrounding darkness that causes us to stop and stare. It’s for good reason that those living in the northern hemisphere have, for countless generations, had festivals focussed on light at a time when sunlight is so limited.
Darkness in the Bible represents death, evil and hopelessness. As we are so conscious of the physical darkness at this time of year it’s also good to remind ourselves of the spiritual darkness that we experience within our own hearts and in our surrounding culture.
Timothy Keller, in his book Hidden Christmas, speaks of sunlight bringing three things: life, truth and beauty. We need the light of the sun for life as without it nothing would grow. We need the light of God’s son to bring us out of the darkness of sin and back into a right relationship with our Heavenly Father. Then we have life in all its fullness. We need light to show us where we are going. Jesus, the light of the world, shows us the right path if we walk with him, sometimes following, sometimes beside, and sometimes being carried. We need light to reveal beauty. A sunset or a glorious summer day bring great joy. But that joy is fleeting and should point us to our true source of joy - our Lord Jesus Christ.
The shepherds, ordinary, lowly, unremarkable men, saw the glorious light of God shining all around them but were led to the source of the light, lying in a manger. Our only true response should be, like them, to bow in adoration and worship.