“Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:3-5
In the deep darkness of a Vietnam night, you could see the ember of a lit cigarette from a very, very long distance, perhaps encouraging a fatal bullet from a sniper’s rifle. This tells the story of the power of light to penetrate darkness. A small light at night has a greater penetration than the darkness attempting to engulf it. This phenomenon makes it absolutely essential to maintain perfect light security, lest you give away your position to a deadly enemy; but it also can show you the way to safety.
Advent is the perpetual story of a light shining in great darkness, which, though trying, cannot overcome it. From the promise spoken in primeval history of the seed of the woman that would crush the serpent’s head, all the way to the present, there has been a persistent light piercing the darkness of a dark world that would not be overcome by its sheer blackness. Millennia after the first promise, light shone forth from a stable in an obscure Middle Eastern village; even then the darkness would not blot it out. The machinations of a powerful, malevolent king killing infants could not extinguish the light from spreading into the world. Such is the miracle of Advent, beginning with a promise in Eden, fulfilled in a Bethlehem stable, victorious in a failed attempt of extinguishing the light at Calvary, light bursting out of a sealed stone grotto tomb in Jerusalem, and soon, after numerous appearances, the light ascending into the eternal heavens; He still shines in the darkness of this present world as another Advent season begins in 2015, awaiting a promised return. The light of the world shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
From a common perspective, it would appear to many that the darkness is overcoming the light as the world continues its inexorable march into self-destruction. World-wide terrorism, martyrdoms, ruinous earthquakes, a tsunami of crime and violence, increasing addictions of every kind, even mythical man-made climate change claims of devastating proportions, massive global debt, proliferation of the killing of infants, and the harvesting of their organs all contribute to the encroaching blackness and apparent closed eyes and ears of an ever-darkening world.
Yet there is the light in the truth of the glory of Advent shining through the myriad attempts to shut down the true unadulterated Gospel message of Christmas/Advent in yet another season. The light of the Gospel cannot be overcome by the waves of darkness that make every effort to extinguish it. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the church of the Lord Jesus Christ; nor can the power of the Gospel be kept from snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. Nothing can thwart the purpose of salvation for which it is sent.
The Psalmist gives us the true perspective of our dark world: “Even the darkness is not dark to you” (Psalm 139:12). The Advent light shines steadily through the millennia, never wavering, never extinguished, and always reaching at a minimum a remnant of His people, the very ones He desired to reach. It accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent. Hope is caught in its ray. The blackness is never so complete that the promise of His Advent is ever extinguished. The first Advent took place in obscurity, but the light of His Word broadcast its message throughout the world. The second Advent will be witnessed by all. From one perspective, there is bleakness; but from God’s true perspective, there is good at work in the world, ignored by the eyes of a mostly ignorant media. The light and promise of Advent shines in the blackest places. It shines in the Middle East; it shines as well on the PAYH campus. It shines in the consciousness of young PAYH men, the primary participants tonight in the most unlikely activity for them: a Christmas dinner theatre. The message of Advent is there; hopefully the light of the Gospel will penetrate their hearts as they act and speak the Advent message to a sold-out crowd.
Though a far, far distant light from millennia past, the light of Advent has shone steadily through centuries of darkness, ever lighting a path of salvation for countless seekers of its message. As the Apostle Peter says, “We have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.” The darkness cannot overcome the light of Advent. Focus on that light and take hope; the darkness has not and will not overcome it. Even so, come Lord Jesus.
“O come, thou Dayspring from on high, and cheer us by thy drawing nigh; disperse the gloomy clouds of night, and death’s dark shadows put to flight. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”
(4th verse of Latin Antiphons, 12th century hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)
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