“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.”
~ John 1: 1-5
Yesterday was a dark, tragic, horrific day. Years from now we will all remember where we were and what we were doing when we learned of the devastating events that took place in Newtown, CT. As I read peoples thoughts and prayers via social media one in particular stood out… I believe it stood out because it was similar to my own. David Scherer (aka AGAPE) simply said: “The light has shined in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it!”
All throughout this Advent Season I have been clinging to thoughts of light somewhere in the darkness. I have had drama and turmoil brewing in my life. There has been a lot of fear and uncertainty and stress. When I read that passage from the Gospel of John, I wanted to scream, “WHERE GOD???? WHERE IS THE LIGHT IN THIS? HOW HAS DARKNESS NOT WON????” I thought, I prayed, and I still had nothing.
As I lay in bed last night I replayed my day over in my mind (a weird ritual I have done since I was in high school). The first thing I thought of was going to the grocery store. As I walked in to Walmart a group of three people were directly in front of me. They had gotten out of an old school bus that appears to be converted into their home. They were dressed all in dark clothing, mostly black, had piercings, tattoos, and were overall pretty scroungy and greasy in appearance. As we walked in they all split to go in different directions, obviously having split up their list for maximum speed of exit. I was directly behind one of this motley crew who was directly behind an older woman in an electronic wheelchair shopping cart. All of a sudden he walked around her rapidly. Once he moved I realized there was another wheelchair blocking her way and she could not go forward. He pulled the chair out of the way and smiled at the older woman. She beamed back and thanked him and wished him a Merry Christmas. His response, “You have a Merry Christmas too, Mam.” He seemed surprised that she would have greeted him so warmly (my guess is that he and his friends are often labeled and shunned many of the places they go) and his genuine smile and the sparkle in his eyes was beautiful.
I lay in bed and realized that was light in the darkness. An unexpected interaction between two people who normally would never have had reason to connect, and it more than likely made both of their day. I realized that I saw Jesus in the man.
My mind moved on to bringing my daughter lunch for her birthday at school. She is in Kindergarten and was so excited to have Sonic brought to her for her birthday. She walked into the cafeteria, saw me, and called “MOMMY!!!” and ran over to where I sat, gave me a hug and a kiss and smiled her beautiful little cherub smile. Again… light in the darkness. We had a great lunch in which I hugged and kissed her A LOT.
After that I helped my sons class with and Ice Cream Sunday Party they were having. He didn’t know that I was helping so was surprised to see me. His got a huge smile on his face and came over and gave me a hug. (First Grade Boys don’t kiss their Mommies in public.) Light in the darkness.
Once school was finished I took my kids to Papa Murphy’s so Izzy (my daughter) could pick out a pizza for her birthday dinner. While there she told the woman helping us it was her birthday and the woman replied, “Well you can’t leave without a gift from us… would you like to take some cookie dough with you?” Izzy was so excited about her cookie dough gift! I have no idea if Papa Murphy’s really gives free cookie dough on birthdays or if they were just being exceptionally kind to my child, but she was ecstatic! Light in the darkness.
I could keep going with little glimpses of light that I saw all day long. I realized as I lay in bed, that our lives are not so dissimilar to those of the ancient Israelites. Isaiah prophesied again and again of the light that was to come and bring them from the darkness. Their lives were hard and full of angst and tragedy. Looking for light within the tragedy itself is not always the answer. Sometimes we must look to small inconsequential events and in them we will see the light. No one expected the Savior of the World to be born in a stable and live the life of a carpenter. Yet he was, and he is the word and the light.
Light is all around us; a reminder that we are not alone. God and the Word were with us in the beginning and they are with us now. We will never be abandoned, and the darkness will not overcome us.