JESUS, THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD
This Christmas letter to our family and friends doesn’t have any news of activities, accomplishments, highlights or even challenges of the past year. Instead, this is a bit of my (Diane’s) heart that I want to share with you on behalf of both Ed and myself. We hope that you will find some blessing in it for yourselves. We love and treasure each one of you.
A few years ago during another Christmas season, I was captivated by the incredible truth of Jesus as Immanuel – which means “God With Us”! That still stirs my heart in amazement.
This year as I seek for meaning and spiritual sustenance during Advent, I am drawn to the truth of Jesus as the Light of the World.
Two of the prophecies spoken out in the gospel of Luke at the time of Jesus’ birth pay homage to this unique aspect of His being.
Simeon’s Prophecy (as he held the baby Jesus in his arms):
I have seen your salvation, which you have prepared for all people. He is a light to reveal God to the nations, and He is the glory of your people Israel! Luke 2:30-32
Zechariah’s Prophecy (before the birth of Jesus) in Luke 1:78-79:
Because of God’s tender mercy, the Morning Light from heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.
Zechariah’s words seem to be a timely word for the days that we are living in. Throughout history, the world has seen many dark and terrible times. And every generation hopes that it can live in peace and prosperity and that their children will not need to suffer poverty or persecution or death. Yet, there seems to be no end to suffering. Increasingly, believers are wondering if we are living in the end days because of all of the terrible things happening in this world – disease, disaster, and war. Our world is becoming an increasingly dark place and evil seems to grow each day as mankind rejects God and pursues his own agenda of power, greed, selfishness, and pride. One can hardly take it in.
In the last couple of days, as I have been writing this letter, two tragedies have made headlines. A religious fanatic held terrified people hostage at a Sydney café, and which ended in death for several innocent people. Their families will grieve this Christmas.
In Pakistan, we know that many Christians have lost their lives over the past year(s) and recently 141 innocent people, mostly children were murdered by the Taliban. Their families will grieve this Christmas.
Where is hope to be found when evil men hate and kill…when loved ones suffer and die?
The truth that I believe and hold on to is that God sees and hears, that He loves and cares, that He is with me and that there will eventually be an end to all evil. He has stepped into our world for a purpose. Jesus has come to rescue and save us and to give us life, a way to God, and the kind of truth that fills our hearts with hope and peace. He has come to shine a light into the darkness.
“I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12)
I am going to ponder this truth each time I light a candle or admire the Christmas lights that decorate my home. I hope to use these things to remind me to worship the One who brings light to our lives that can’t be extinguished. My favorite scripture says it so beautifully.
"In the beginning was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it." John 1:1-5
Because I believe in Jesus Christ, I carry His light in me. It is my prayer that others may be drawn to that light and so I pray that I will increasingly live my live in honor of the One who gave up everything to bring me that light which gives my life meaning.
This is what I hope to take into the New Year. This will mean that this season of Advent will have had a meaningful impact in my life. The cookies we bake and eat may cause us regret (when we eat too many), gifts may be returned or forgotten, trees will be taken down and decorations packed up, but truth that is searched for and found, is something that we can treasure throughout all the days ahead!
As 2014 draws to an end and we have had one more opportunity to meditate on the wonder of the birth of Christ, we leave you with this prayer.
May God shine His Light on you and give you peace. May the things that have caused you pain or fear or doubt be banished from your hearts and replaced by the comfort and joy of God’s unfathomable love for you.
Diane and Ed
2014, Brisbane, Australia