This was my meditation for my Longest Night of the Year Service on the 21st. I always really appreciate having that service and doing some writing for it. I'll probably post last year's meditation, whenever I get a chance to type it up--I lost a lot of my files from the past several years when my flash drive died recently...
“Looking for Light”
Longest Night Meditation 2013
Brock, Benjamin, and I were returning home one evening recently, and as we rounded a curve in the subdivision, the lights at one house clicked off. We realized as we drove down the street that the power was out all the way down the street, but just on one side of it. We were thankful to arrive at home and find that our power was on, though I know our neighbors were not nearly as pleased, as they sat in the dark across the street. It was comforting to see the lights of home.
We’ve heard some of the story of the wise men tonight. They were people looking for light and longing for home, like us in some ways, though they followed a star in the sky, which I doubt many of us have done. Yes, perhaps the wise men weren't unlike us. Sure, they had purpose and they were excited about the mission they were on. They looked forward to seeing this king that they had been searching for, for so long. But they were probably also weary, tired of wandering and tired of wondering when they would get to where they were going. They had spent so long looking at a light up in the heavens; perhaps they were more than ready to find a welcoming light on earth below. Their journey had involved untold peril. They could not have known when they started out just what they were in for. Maybe it was a surprise to them to run across Herod, this nutty king who seemed, at best, a little bi-polar in his response to their request for help finding this new king. It had been a long, strange trip, indeed.
And yet, Matthew tells us that when they arrived at the house--possibly after two or three years of travel, two or three years of wondering if this was all worth it—and they saw that the star had stopped, they were overjoyed. They were overjoyed! What else could they be? They could be disappointed because they had found some plain old little Jewish boy and his mom, but they weren’t. They could be confused, thinking this was surely not the right place, but they didn't stop and just ask for directions. The light they had been looking at for so long finally came to rest somewhere. They were overjoyed!
We have nearly come to Christmas. We may have been chasing after joy in parties and presents, this whole time. We may have been on the outside, looking in, thinking everyone else knew the joy of the season and we were left out. Tonight, with the wise men (though they won't show up for quite some time, really!), let us rejoice to see that the journey we have been on, the journey we will continue to travel on, has been worth it. The darkness has not won. Just like for the wise men, the distractions and the dangers along the way have not overpowered us. We have come this far, and we are still standing. And lest we be tempted to lose hope, even now, even as we have nearly made it through the longest night of the year, yet again, we hear again the words from the first chapter of John.
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world."
~John 1:1-5, 9 (NRSV)
I guess it’s not surprising that we would talk about light and darkness a lot at this time of year, when we experience so much literal darkness. And the Christmas story reminds us all about the difference between light and darkness. We may just find ourselves in spiritual darkness, as well as physical darkness, this time of year. And the promise is that no matter how much darkness we may feel like we’re sitting in, it cannot overcome the light that is Christ, shining into all the darkness.
The light that we have been looking for has arrived. There is no darkness in our lives great enough to put it out. There has never been, nor will there ever be. When we think we are in the midst of the pit, the light shall still be shining. When we think we are lost along the way, the light does not leave us to grope blindly in the dark. No, despite all our cares and the darkness that seems to set in, the light has, in fact dawned. We don't always recognize him. We don't always hear his voice. But he remains: God with us. Emmanuel. The very king the wise men traveled so far to see: God with us. The light of the world.
Let us, too, be overjoyed this Christmas, not because we have no sorrow, not because we feel no heartache, and not because we experience no pain. Let us, too, be overjoyed with the wise men because, at last, the one who came as just a baby is, indeed, the light we have been looking for. There is light in the darkness. New day will dawn again. And the light we have been looking for will be light to all people, that no darkness will ever extinguish. Thanks be to God. Amen.