What do you think about when you walk in the dark? This past summer I was walking in deep darkness.
I was in Hezekiah’s tunnel, an underground waterway under Jerusalem that King Hezekiah dug out long ago. It’s around two feet wide, and it’s this long tunnel hewn through the rock deep underground. There’s a couple of feet of water in it. It’s half a kilometer long. There are no lights underground. Our group, armed with flashlights, started in…..soon the group at the front had moved ahead, and the people behind me had stopped to take some pictures, and I was suddenly walking alone in this tunnel without any light at all. Zero light. Underground cave, pitch blackness. Cold water up to my hips, with me feeling my way along with my hands on the sides of the walls. I could hear voices but I could see nothing. The weight of the darkness, the heaviness of it as solid as rock seemed to compress me, and I felt like it was trying to extinguish my life. I felt my skin starting to crawl as I walked in the darkness deep underground.
It’s possible to walk in the dark. You can fall down and bump into things or you might get lost, but you can walk. This week’s scripture passage talks about God’s kingdom coming as light dawning on those who walk in darkness. In that tunnel I was longing for light.
I wonder where you are walking in the dark in your life? What kind of light do you need? How can God bring light to you this advent?
This week’s prayer: Be with me, even when I walk through the valley of the shadow of death. Be with me in dark places Jesus, you are the light I need!
Christmas is around the corner and this Wednesday is the darkest day of the year. Or rather I should say the shortest day; on the winter solstice in Niagara our day is…8 hours, 58 minutes and 30 seconds, to be precise. That seems like a long day compared to Arviat, Nunavut, where Alan and Clare’s daughter Karen is teaching school…they only have 5 hours, 29 minutes and 14 seconds of day on the solstice. You too can quote interesting statistics like this, you only have to have access to the website www.timeanddate.com
Somehow Christmas and the darkest day seem very connected: the season of darkness, when night is so long, is the same time as the season of light (a phrase often used to describe Christmas). It seems right to be contemplating how the light of the world, Jesus Christ, came to us at a time of year when we are looking into a lot of darkness. But of course the southern hemisphere is celebrating the summer solstice this week, and they connect Christmas with long days!
This week in our worship service we are continuing our theme of light, by thinking of light in the world, and around the world; and our place in that undertaking. Lighten up!
This weeks’ prayer: Help us to long for light, to see light, and to be light to all we meet.
Growing up, we were not a family that ever put up outdoor Christmas lights. We were not unusual; very few of my Mennonite friends had outdoor Christmas lights. We all came from homes where that was seen as a waste of money. Why pay to light up the outside?
But I have always loved to look at Christmas lights. One of our neighbours on Rittenhouse Rd. was the kind of person that goes hog-wild with Christmas lights. They had lit up statues of the Holy Family, Bambi, Frosty the Snowman and penguins all over the front lawn, in addition to thousands of lights from ground to roof-top antenna, all pulsing in time to music from loudspeakers. I was sad when that family moved away. But this year we have new neighbours next door… Last week they put up one string of lights on the eaves and two light structures; a-blue-dolphin-wearing-a-santa-hat, and a little white seal. This week they’ve added a giant blow up snowman and a Christmas tree, lighted candycanes along the path and another big string of lights on the house. This could be interesting! It’s dark in Canada in winter, and we appreciate lights!
This Sunday in church we are continuing our theme of light; this time I’m going to be talking about the “home lights”. Can we trust God to bring light into our homes? Are we hopeful people when it comes to relationships? Yesterday several of us were at the memorial service for Ada Thiessen, Ron & Nancy’s mother. We heard how she was a light in the lives of her loved ones. Sometimes it is in the darkest times that we realize how much we love the light.
This week’s prayer: God of light; shine in our hearts and in the hearts of those we love this Advent season!
It was dark before dinnertime today. I hate that. Short days and long nights aren’t my thing. Going out in the dark (and the cold) is always a chore, I’d just as soon stay home. Add to that the increasingly cloudy November weather, and it all adds up to gloomy. Winter is a time for cocooning.
Advent comes with words of light. “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness— on them light has shined. “ (Isaiah 9:2) For Christians in the northern hemisphere, advent comes to us as the days grow shorter and shorter. Fourth advent falls close to the winter solstice, the longest night of the year. The darkness of the advent season, gives us time and opportunity to reflect on waiting for light. But because we are experiencing physical darkness, we can sometimes forget to think about the inner darkness that all of us experience. The writer of Isaiah was not speaking literally of a land of darkness, but of people who had lost their way to God.
Today I’m thinking about Advent in Australia. How would it feel different to be thinking about advent and darkness and waiting, as the days get longer, and warmer. Since we have our church picnic near the summer solstice, it makes sense that down under, fourth advent might be celebrated outside, under the sunny sky, maybe on a beach! Fourth advent on the longest day of the year, under the hottest sun. It gives a different feel to “…on them light has shined.”
In our advent worship this year we’ll be reflecting on darkness and light, waiting and fulfilment. It’s a time pregnant with possibilities.
God of grace, in darkness we seek you. In the darkness of our mind, the darkness of our time, the darkness of the season. Let your light shine! Amen.