The sun has yet to dawn upon the horizon. The moon and the stars are veiled by clouds. Darkness prevails. I sit in my family room surrounded by a soft glow of amber, which is produced from the gold light bulbs that adorn my Christmas tree. The dim light barely illuminates the furnishings in my home yet generates a warm and cozy feeling in the house.
No one in my home is stirring. Few in my neighborhood have yet risen to greet this day that is beginning in such blackness. I have only seen lights in one nearby house and there is still no traffic on the street. The lonely darkness outside stands in stern contrast to the welcoming illumination indoors thanks to the Christmas tree.
The quietness of the morning has afforded me time to appreciate my tree and to ponder on this holiday that provides the background for one of the most treasured truths found within the pages of the Bible. Few theologians believe that Jesus was actually born on December 25, but all believers acknowledge that on a dark night in a Bethlehem manger the Light of the World began to shine.
The prophets of old had foretold the coming of the Messiah, the Son of God. Although the light of that promise shone only dimly against the dark world of Roman oppression, the faithful believers found solace in the glow of God’s pledge. Just before the dawning of the new day for humanity, the Christ child was born on a dark night, in an obscure village, and in an ignoble place. Mary, Joseph, and a few shepherds were awake. They were privileged to bask in the warm glow of His glory and His grace.
Yet, the darkness of every night yields to the brightness of a new day. If I sit here on my couch long enough, the sun will rise; and its bright rays will diffuse the blackness outside and saturate my house with vivid light. The neighbors will soon be awake; the traffic will flow; and life will thrive in the bright light of day. Darkness may endure for the night, but the sun comes up every morning.
Although I may start this morning against the backdrop of darkness and find some comfort in my softly illuminated surroundings, I know that I am not destined to work and play in this level of dimness. The same could be said for the babe born in a manger! He may have come at night; He may have illuminated only a few in the nativity; He may have shone glory only in a small sphere on that night in Bethlehem; but He brought the dawning of the new era.
The obscurity of the manger gave way to the full light of Christ’s ministry. His miracles and His message shined light everywhere in Judea and Galilee. While He lived, many responded to His brightness. Yet that was just the beginning. Throughout the last two millennia, people in all nations have heard of Christ and responded to the brightness of His glory. He may have been born in an obscure manger, but He came to be the Light of the World.
Isaiah 60:1-3 declares, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness shall cover the earth, and thick darkness the peoples; but the Lord will arise upon you, and his glory will be seen upon you. And nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising.” (ESV)
May your holiday season be filled with the hope of a bright future as you celebrate the birth of Christ, who is your Light and the Light of the whole world.