Summary: Light destroys the negative.
The Light of the World
Christmas Eve 2004
(Begin message by using flash from camera as introduction.) Christmas time always brings lots of photographs. There are pictures of the children opening the packages, pictures of family and friends at office parties and family reunions. We love pictures, and Christmas affords us the opportunity to take lots of them. Some of them are good, some of them are bad, but we love them all.
What makes the difference is a good a bad picture? Well, obviously the subject matter determines whether the photograph will be good or not. Then, the angles matter. My wife loves to take pictures, but she often has difficulty centering the subject in the photo. She likes to cut their heads off, or she only gets half of one person in the shot. I don’t know why, but that’s just the way she takes pictures. Other times, though, she can get the angle just right and the photo is wonderful, so angles do matter. Though angles and subjects do matter in the photo, they are not of supreme importance. For every photo there is one thing that must be right for the photo to be right—the light. You can’t take a good photo if the light isn’t right.
The magic of photography lies in the light. Light can do more than make an image on film; it can emphasize, subdue or alter moods. It can help you say many things about your subject. Yes, light makes all the difference in the world. It is light that makes the image on the film. Without light there would be no image. All a person would see is darkness.
This life, too, can seem so dark at times. We see a world surrounded by the darkness of war and poverty, the darkness of death and disease, the darkness of sin and brokenness, the darkness of abuse and violence. Yet, amidst this darkness we catch glimpses of light, and the glimpses of that light cast out the darkness of our lives if only momentarily. Like the flash of a camera that sheds just enough light to cast an image on film, so amid the darkness of our world we catch just enough of the light God has sent to drive out the darkness of an evil world.
John’s gospel tells us tonight that the light, the true light, has come into the world. That true light is Jesus, and he is shining his light in the darkness. Christmas is the reminder that the light of Christ has come into the world. We light the center candle of the advent wreath, the Christ candle, to remind us that the light is shining. And the light shines for us, for you. He is desiring to shine in the darkness of your brokenness to show the way to his blessedness. He is shining to lead us in the way of peace, hope and love. He is shining to destroy the negative.
There is another thing about light and photography. Not only does light cast the good image upon the darkness, but light can also destroy the negative. Now we know that the negative from the film is what carries the image. That film is taken into the dark-room and is developed in darkness. When I was in high school I attended Vo-Tech school, any my instructor was a professional photographer. He had a darkroom on campus. Occasionally we would hear him yell, “Who turned on the light.” Sometimes a student would mistakenly walk by the darkroom and flip the switch. A roll of film ruined. The light destroyed the negative.
The light of Jesus will invade the darkness of your life and mine, if we allow him, and he will destroy the negative—the negative of sin and brokenness, of abuse and failure, of fear and hopelessness. But he will replace the negative with the positive light of his love that lifts us, and fulfills us, and completes us.
Jesus is the light, and he is shining in the darkness, dispelling the darkness and driving out the negative. Catch a glimpse of his light tonight!