Light DOES overcome darkness
December 2015. This month Rev. Bentley deBardelaben reflects on his hopes for this Advent season and the world. With a special note of thanks to the members of our Justice and Peace Action Network, we wish you a very Merry Christmas!
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that easily distracts, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us.” – Hebrews 12:1
YEAH, it’s the holiday season! What a wonderful time of year, RIGHT? Across the planet humankind exhibits its best self through expressions of goodness and light. Peace and joy. Hope and of course, LOVE.
Many churches will visually mark the season with a weekly lighting of Advent wreath candles, beginning four weeks prior to Christmas day. This ritual culminates on Christmas Eve with the lighting of the Christ candle. It can be visually and spiritually stunning to witness the light from that one candle breaking into in a darkened sanctuary and spreading from the Christ candle to all others. Coupled with the singing of “Silent Night,” this ritual makes me weep annually as humankind remembers who we are and whose we are.
And yet, despite my love of this tradition, I’m finding it a little hard to get in the spirit this Advent.
This is a hard time of year for many of us. The struggle for justice can be exhausting. The road to victory is often very long. Whether through experience or observation we are witnesses to the forces of oppression, which do harm to the spirit and/or soul of members of our community. For some, reminders of this season and “what it ought to be” only amplify in hearts and minds situations that may not be merry and bright in their lives.
Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.” Difficult as life’s circumstance may presently be, I find it important to try to hold onto that nugget of truth now and throughout the year.
In a time when the world seems obsessed with scarcity rather than celebrating God’s abundance it can be hard to hold on to hope. And when we hear hatred espoused it becomes even more difficult to find light in the darkness. But we are an Advent people. And we know that the light does overcome darkness, which is why the ritual of lighting candles one by one in a darkened sanctuary is so powerful.
It is my hope that we will recall that important image as we celebrate this season and prepare for a New Year in which we can again work together to challenge systemic oppression through policy change. May the light of the Christ child, and work of the many faithful servants who have come before, us inspire and guide us. Merry Christmas to all!