The black velvet of night’s shadows swathes the little town in a quiet embrace. Occasionally, were one to simply listen, all that can be heard are the sounds that animals utter at times in the deep of night, the bleating of a sheep here, the lowing of a cow there. Abruptly, the frail and fragile cry of a newborn baby breaks the sleepy stillness and then is hushed as the little one is comforted by his young mother. No, all is not quite silent. The whisper of God stirs the veils of human sorrow. Into the very midst of violence and hate, Love has come.
Overhead, tiny torches glitter in the infinite blackness, an innumerable host of stars gazing perpetually down upon the woes of humanity. One star in particular blazes forth as it joyfully announces the sudden advent of hope into the world. So bright is its light that objects and people below cast dim shadows upon the stones of the somber streets. No, all is not completely dark. From the womb of waiting and suffering, a spark of divine Light has been birthed.
Thirty years pass as God’s divine intent nears its culmination. On yet another dark and quiet night, the Lord Jesus, seated with his closest friends and helpers, carefully lays a foundation of hope and understanding to build their perseverance in the next several hours that would temporarily create more questions then would be answered and cause more pain and grief than could be endured.
Yet again, Love is present and has its way. Though it will appear to succumb to the onslaught of human cruelty and evil, in the end, it dethrones these tyrants and even the despot of death.
Yet again, Light has come and illuminates the shades that plague the human heart, beating back the ghosts of disillusionment and despair.
Hear the tender words of the living Light as He prepares these faithful few for the dark road before them. “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him. You know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.…. These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid” (John 14:15-21, 25-27 ESV).
Uttering words of hope to hearts that desperately need it, the Lord stokes embers of faith that will ultimately change both the lives of these disciples and then also a world of others to follow. Speaking words of peace to lives that have known anything but peace for the entirety of their existence, He gently anchors them to the sureties that God is truly in control, that His love and power are sufficient for all our needs, and that as we truly and thoroughly place our faith in Christ, we are anchored indeed in spite of the most tumultuous of times. Proclaiming a message of joy, He fills the cup of their lives with meaning, enthusiasm and vision that will move this “good news” to the ends of the earth.
“…(Jesus) said to them… ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you’” (John 16:19, 20-22 ESV).
Christmas is an opportunity to celebrate the hope, peace and joy that the love of Christ secures for us. And because we each have access by faith to the Light of the Truth of God as revealed in Christ Jesus, we may shrug off the clinging claws of despair and walk through life as victorious children of God.
(Thom Mollohan and his family have ministered in southern Ohio the past 23 years, is the author of The Fairy Tale Parables, Crimson Harvest, and A Heart at Home with God. He blogs at “unfurledsails.wordpress.com”. Pastor Thom leads Pathway Community Church and may be reached for comments or questions by email at firstname.lastname@example.org).