What came into being
through the Word was life,
and the life was the light for all people.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. – John 1:4-5
Sunday morning my adult CE class launched a month-long pause from the rigors of Christian Doctrine, shifting gears for a few weeks to focus on the season of Advent.
Traditionally, the four Sundays leading up to Christmas focus on Hope, Peace, Love, & Joy – the same outline as my classic Christmas book In My Heart I Carry A Star (IMHO still worth reading and sharing).
This year, however (and this may be the initial exploration of a potential new book) I’m substituting a different set of words, words that compliment hope, peace, love, & joy but also take us in a new direction. So our conversation this week moved around the idea of hope, yes, but how hope finds deeper meaning as we begin to talk about light.
So the first of my four new Advent words for 2018 is LIGHT.
This morning, then, while the coffee was making and I was getting the kitchen ready for breakfast, I captured a series of Christmasy images designed to show me something about light.
I think it is amazing and inspiring that the source of all light in this world – our sun – is also the source of all energy and all life. I love the way John puts light and life together in his beautiful and lyrical restatement of the creation story at the beginning of his gospel.
Jesus is life, and this life is light for all people.
One unmistakable achievement of light is – always – the immediate eradication of darkness. The dark is simply incompatible with light, and the beautiful, elegant, uncomplicated consequence of introducing light is that we don’t then have to do anything about the dark – because it is simply gone.
The Incompatibility Principle:
This “incompatibility principle” is a truth that guided my work with exceptional children back in the 80’s and 90’s. While many teachers found themselves stuck in the negative cycle of correction, and yelling, and punishment, and frustration, my team was able to work much more effectively and make more headway eliminating harmful behaviors by encouraging (reinforcing) positive behaviors that happened to be incompatible with what we were trying to stop.
When God entered this world as an infant it was a move intended to introduce light into the darkness and thereby defeat the evil that hitherto stood between humankind and redemption.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness doesn’t extinguish the light. – John 1:5
- Not punishment designed to coerce our cooperation…
- Not the imposition of religious rules in order to earn some kind of reprieve…
- Not an overlay of guilt whereby humanity would be pressured into crawling on hands and knees into the presence of a disdainful God…
- Not a litany of “I’m right you’re wrong” religiosity that sidesteps redemption and promise to move directly into religious pride and graceless condemnation.
So now there isn’t any condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death. – Romans 8:1-2
But, gloriously and effectively, the gift of light and life, along with the invitation, the encouragement, to simply step into the light and to live intentionally in love, and thereby participate in the complete victory over darkness that is ours in Christ.
This is what these next few weeks are all about, the love of a God who reached – who is reaching – into time and space with purpose and with compassion, a God who has already established something unbreakable and completely accessible.
Let’ s celebrate promise, and hope, and life, and light this Advent. Because the invitation is ours to accept with wide open arms – DEREK