Summary: Christmas series introduction - focusing on the role of light in the Christmas story
Intro: Light. We have a hard time even describing what it’s made out of, but we sure do depend on it.
We know it’s very fast - 186,282 miles per second.
We know that it’s important to our emotional and physical health. Sunshine is a source of vitamin D, and areas where the sun doesn’t shine much are areas where people are depressed. Alaska has the 2nd highest suicide rate in the nation.
We know we need light to see. So, we come up with all kinds of ways to generate it in places where we need it. We even use it to decorate and to entertain.
Our planet depends on light for energy. Plants use it to create sugar and to generate oxygen. We have learned how to harness the sun for electricity.
Light, in a concentrated form, is powerful enough to burn through steel instantly, or on a sunny day with a magnifying glass, enough to cook some angry fire ants!
As it turns out, light is also an indispensable element of the Christmas story. Christmas is filled with the presence and significance of light, and this December we’re going to look at the light, especially through the glow of one Bible verse…
The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
Just like any other Sunday, everyone comes inside these doors with their own story. I want this message today to speak especially to people who are feeling the gloom. Holidays bring that for a lot of people. Maybe this is the first Christmas you’ll be facing without a loved one. Maybe there’s a bad memory in the past that happened around Christmas and that’s what comes to mind as you think about it.
Maybe you’re just overwhelmed with the hyper-materialism and the different way that people drive starting the day after Thanksgiving. It might be that having the day feel like it’s over because it’s dark at 4:30 is getting to you. I just know that gloominess is a reality for a lot of people right about now. I hope to find some help with that from God’s word this morning.
Let’s get some background here by starting at the beginning. You know, when light first started…
Genesis 1:1-5 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
To speak about and understand the whole subject of light, we need this background. You notice Who invented light and darkness, night and day? God calls the light “day,” and the darkness “night.” When it comes to creation, the very first order of business is light. First, there was formlessness, emptiness, and darkness. Light came to be because God told it to. Not only did it “be,” (v3), but also it was good (v4) and as He created it, God made a definite distinction between light and darkness. That’s the very first part of creating that God did. It seems now like there are a lot of people who are working hard to blur the lines between light and darkness. I wonder if they realize that they’re trying to figuratively undo the very first thing that God did in creation. He separated light from darkness.
The difference between light and darkness is one of the ways that Scripture helps us understand what is good and evil.
That way of speaking is so common that most any person in any culture can appreciate it. Dark magic, the dark arts, the Dark Side, dark times, being “in the dark,” or in a dark mood - these are things we learn about very early in life. We understand them to be the opposite of good things - things that have to do with being in the light.
And somehow, we find that light and all that is good about it finds its source in God - so much so that at the end of the story which we’re still waiting for, when creation gets an extreme makeover, there’s no longer a sun or moon. God Himself is the literal source of light in Heaven. (Rev 21:23)
But right now, there’s gloom, isn’t there? This is the perfect time of year to point to it. George HW Bush died Friday night, so flags were being lowered to ½-mast yesterday. Then, I stood at a graveside yesterday. It was windy, but wind is especially strong in cemeteries. Then, the temperature was just above freezing, the sky was pale gray…and it was raining. If I were an artist, and wanting to paint “gloomy,” that’s how it would look; no “happy trees.” Gray. Cold. Dimly lit. Sad.