Christmas in the dark

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Two weeks ago, one of the teaching pastors at my church made me think about the birth of Christ in a whole new light. While we typically think of it as a “silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright…” with singing angels, a happy Mary, shepherds in awe, Lloyd (our pastor) reminded us that though the earthly realm may have been calm and bright, the heavenly realms were quite the opposite.

The birth of Jesus was God’s fulfillment to the promise he made Satan in the Garden of Eden. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head and you will strike his heel. [Genesis 3:15] Jesus’ birth was an act of initiating full blown war. Satan knew that this baby born of a virgin, this God-man would be the vehicle God would use to redeem His people. When Jesus chose to take on flesh and be born in the most innocent, vulnerable form– we like to paint him in this “sweet 8lbs, 10 ounces, baby boy” picture, but in reality that tiny babe was the most threatening weapon of war Satan would ever see. And he knew it. And God knew it. And all of the heavenly realm knew it. That babe, born in a manager, was God’s fulfillment of His promise to crush Satan, redeem His people, and bring His light into our very, very dark world.

Since the Sandy Hook shooting, I have read this prayer by Max Lucado almost every day.

Dear Jesus,

It’s a good thing you were born at night. This world sure seems dark. I have a good eye for silver linings. But they seem dimmer lately.

These killings, Lord. These children, Lord. Innocence violated. Raw evil demonstrated.

The whole world seems on edge. Trigger-happy. Ticked off. We hear threats of chemical weapons and nuclear bombs. Are we one button-push away from annihilation?

Your world seems a bit darker this Christmas. But you were born in the dark, right? You came at night. The shepherds were nightshift workers. The Wise Men followed a star. Your first cries were heard in the shadows. To see your face, Mary and Joseph needed a candle flame. It was dark. Dark with Herod’s jealousy. Dark with Roman oppression. Dark with poverty. Dark with violence.

Herod went on a rampage, killing babies. Joseph took you and your mom into Egypt. You were an immigrant before you were a Nazarene.

Oh, Lord Jesus, you entered the dark world of your day. Won’t you enter ours? We are weary of bloodshed. We, like the wise men, are looking for a star. We, like the shepherds, are kneeling at a manger.

This Christmas, we ask you, heal us, help us, be born anew in us.

Hopefully,

Your Children

All of God’s power, wisdom, and glory was embodied in His Son, who took on the flesh of a tiny baby boy. He was born in an incredibly dark time and our world is still so very dark, but He is our light and our hope. And He desires to enter into your darkness.

So this Christmas day, may we not diminish the birth of our Lord and Savior as just a sweet little baby on a calm and bright night. Let us sit in the gravity of what it meant for our holy God to take on the form of a human, to proclaim full blown war on Satan, and to fulfill His promise of redeeming you and me–out of the darkness and into His light.

Lord Jesus, come yourself, and dwell with us, be human as we are, and overcome what overwhelms us. Come into the midst of my evil, come close to my unfaithfulness. Share my sin, which I hate and which I cannot leave. Be my brother, Thou Holy God. Be my brother in the kingdom of evil and suffering and death. – Deitrich Bonhoeffer, December 2, 1928.

1 thought on “Christmas in the dark”

  1. Just now reading this- really good thoughts here. Put into words the tension I have been feeling with celebrating Christmas against the backdrop of so much pain going on in our world, to some extent- it has even been weird celebrating this whole engagement amidst so many other people’s pain. In any case- thanks for these thoughts and the prayers from Bonhoeffer and Lucado- really good.

    Message by Jenny. Typos by iPhone.

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