The Light Found in the Shadows
When I was growing up it was our family tradition to drive around after the Christmas Eve service and look at Christmas lights. Houses would be decked out in colored lights, garland and Christmas trees. Up and down the streets we would drive until we couldn’t stay awake any longer and we would make our way back home and into bed.
There was something so peaceful about those nights. We were the only people out and houses were glowing from the lights of Christmas. The lights would light up every space in the yard. Each house was special and unique. As we would drive around it felt like the candles we held that night at the Christmas Eve service had spread everywhere as we left the church in the quiet of Christmas.
I still love the lights of Christmas, but today it isn’t just about the light but also about the shadows that fill me with joy. I love the way the lights on the Christmas tree make shadows on the wall or when you light candles and watch the flame flicker. The light and darkness changes the space. Everything, even the darkness, seems to have a warm glow around it.
John opens his gospel narrative by telling us that Jesus’ light shines in the darkness and the darkness did not overcome it. I used to believe this meant that darkness was bad and light was good, but I have come to decide that it is often in the shadows of Christmas that we really see our savior as God with us.
We find shadows with carolers singing jingle bells in the night, in our faces as we watch our favorite Christmas movie, as we grieve over loved-ones we miss at Christmas time, the dreams not fulfilled and struggles that we endure. But we have a choice when we look at the shadows. We can see the shadows as the absence of God’s light, or we can see the shadows as the object being illuminated by the light.
What if the shadows were the place in our lives that God is most present? What if the shadows were the place God wants us to see more clearly? What if the shadows are places where God is with us?
Too often we believe that when we are in the shadows, we are the ones seeking God, trying to find Him in dark, but the exact opposite is really true. Jesus, Emmanuel, means God with us. It is Jesus who is seeking us during Christmas. He is the one that turns the shadows into His light. It begins when we pass the small white candles while we sing Silent Night, at Christmas Eve. The light begins to spread to our faces and the shadows tell us that God is with us.
Wherever you see light this Christmas, may you also see the shadows of Christ’s presence.