Today is the shortest day of the year – the winter solstice is upon us. But the day feels even shorter than the mere passage of chronological time. The days here in SE Michigan seem shortened by a gray, clinging, hazy darkness that dampens all activity. Life seems to move from muted, soggy grays to early darkness. The news doesn’t help, as we hear daily of cruelty, bigotry, and violence.
Yet the other day, as I wandered into the sanctuary, I was delighted by the light pouring through the windows. It was a day of piercing blue skies and stunningly bright sunshine. I sat in one of the pews and basked in the warmth and light. It was glorious. It was joyous. I know it was just one moment on one day, but it was liberating, refreshing, nurturing.
The light does that. It liberates, refreshes, nurtures. Even more it illuminates, revives, encourages. That is what the light does. If sunlight can do that, how much more the light of Christ in our lives. The one who promises to be there – no matter what. The one who promises to be there in the gray, clinging, hazy darkness of our lives. Christ brings light into our lives. He brings the light of love, welcome, acceptance, forgiveness, and grace. “I am the light of the world.” He is the light for all people – no matter where they are, no matter who they are.
As people baptized into Christ’s life, death, and resurrection, we are called to carry that light into our lives. We say to the newly baptized, “let your light so shine that all may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven,” for we know that there are so many who need light in their lives. They need to know that they are loved, forgiven, given refuge, accepted, cared for, fed, clothed, listened to, and welcomed.
The world may be dark, the news may be grim, but we turn back the shadows one light at a time. One candle burning, illuminating, reviving, and then being shared with another. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Christ’s light – his love, welcome, forgiveness, and mercy – turns back the shadows.