The black velvet of night’s shadows swathes the little town in a quiet embrace. Occasionally, were one to simply listen, all that can be heard are the sounds that animals utter at times in the deep of night, the bleating of a sheep here, the lowing of a cow there. Abruptly, the frail and fragile cry of a newborn baby breaks the sleepy stillness and then is hushed as the little one is comforted by his young mother. No, all is not quite silent. The whisper of God stirs the veils of human sorrow. Into the very midst of violence and hate, Love has come.
Overhead, tiny torches glitter in the infinite blackness, an innumerable host of stars gazing perpetually down upon the woes of humanity. One star in particular blazes forth as it joyfully announces the sudden advent of hope into the world. So bright is its light that objects and people below cast dim shadows upon the stones of the somber streets. No, all is not completely dark. From the womb of waiting and suffering, a spark of divine Light has been birthed.
Thirty years pass as God’s divine intent nears its culmination. On yet another dark and quiet night, the Lord Jesus, seated with his closest friends and helpers, carefully lays a foundation of hope and understanding to build their perseverance in the next several hours that would temporarily create more questions then would be answered and cause more pain and grief than could be endured.
Yet again, Love is present and has its way. Though it will appear to succumb to the onslaught of human cruelty and evil, in the end, it dethrones these tyrants and even the despot of death.
Yet again, Light has come and illuminates the shades that plague the human heart, beating back the ghosts of disillusionment and despair.
Hear the tender words of the living Light as He prepares these faithful few for the dark road before them. “If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Counselor to be with you forever – the Spirit of Truth. The world cannot accept Him, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. But you know Him, for He lives with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see Me anymore, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in My Father, and you are in Me, and I am in you. Whoever has My commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves Me. He who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him…. All this I have spoken while still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:15-21, 25-27).
Uttering words of hope to hearts that desperately need it, the Lord stokes embers of faith that will ultimately change both the lives of these disciples and then also a world of others to follow. Speaking words of peace to lives that have known anything but peace for the entirety of their existence, He gently anchors them to the sureties that God is truly in control, that His love and power are sufficient for all our needs, and that as we truly and thoroughly place our faith in Christ, we are anchored indeed in spite of the most tumultuous of times. Proclaiming a message of joy, He fills the cup of their lives with meaning, enthusiasm and vision that will move this “good news” to the ends of the earth.
“…(Jesus) said to them… ‘I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. A woman giving birth to a child has pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish because of her joy that a child is born into the world. So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy’” (John 16:19, 20-22).
Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the hope, peace and joy that the love of Christ secures for us. And because we each have access by faith to the Light of the Truth of God as revealed in Christ Jesus, we may shrug off the clinging claws of despair and walk through life as victorious children of God.