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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” So says the Gospel of John about the coming of Jesus. This year we have no trouble naming the darkness: the cancelling of events, the distancing of our relationships, the financial hardships, the toll of these months on our mental, physical and spiritual health.
COVID has taken its toll our community, our families, and ourselves. This Christmas may be much simpler, quieter, and even sadder than we are used to. But Christmas, the birth of God as a human being, the Word made flesh who dwelled among us, can’t be cancelled: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
It is good for us to take time to notice the light in the midst of the darkness: Zoom and FaceTime have allowed us to maintain connections; our community has been generous in caring for the vulnerable and lonely; health workers, retail workers, teachers, small businesses, parents and caregivers, and so many others who have gone above and beyond in their work this year, often in very stressful conditions.
We are social creatures. We are not meant to be alone. We thrive on connection and community. It’s part of our DNA. It’s why COVID loves our gatherings and it’s why it’s taken such a toll on us.
Christians in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate the coming of the light in Jesus at the darkest time of the year. It’s against the backdrop of the long nights that we enjoy the bright lights of the holiday decorations, the warmth of a dinner by candlelight, the stars against the dark sky.
And this year, COVID or not, Christmas isn’t cancelled. It is a simpler, and perhaps lonelier, Christmas than many of us are used to. But the promise of God who dwells among us in Jesus Christ can’t be taken away, even this year: “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
- Pastor Jeff