(Crosspost from adventagain.blogspot.com)
When our kids were little we would bundle them up in their Pj's and blankets and go for a ride to
see the Christmas lights. We would travel street after street to find the biggest display of brightness. It was fun and exciting. There were giggles and there was wide-eyed wonder...until one child crossed into the other's space and the arguing began! Oh the joys of children! But oh, how the lights did captivate us.
Conversely, years later my sisters and I would do the very same thing with our elderly mother. We would bundle her up and travel to the BEST Christmas light display in town. We would ooh and aah and actually we would sing old Christmas songs with Mama. This is a favorite memory of mine. My mama loved to sing and even as her mind might stray in her older years she could always sing and remember the words. She loved the lights and those trips with her girls. A year ago, December 24, a light went out in my world when my Mama died and it became dark...
This month of pre-Christmas, we've been looking at Nicodemus and his journey to find truth and ask his questions. He came at night, in the dark, seeking. It seems he was not actually sure what he was seeking but yet he came and he came asking. Can we leap to the conclusion that he came to talk with Jesus after he tried life in his own way? He was successful, he was highly educated, he was a respected leader but he was still seeking. It was as though what he had acquired on his own was not enough. And so it is with us. You must be reborn, Jesus told Nicodemus. But how can this be, he asked. How indeed? Accept the ReBorn One.
And lastly, Jesus gives us the final key, the final hope...
16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict:
Light has come into the world... John 3:16-19aIt's the light. The Light has come and the Light comes with no condemnation but to save. To save Nicodemus. To save me and you. I don't know what you wrestle with or what old messages play in your head but I know that this Jesus Nicodemus met offered no condemnation but offered only love. And I know that is what He offers us today. Those old, dark messages are transformed by the one, true Light. How can this be, you again ask? Because we follow the One who leads and loves.
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem 2 and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.”The Magi too realized that light had come into the world. They saw the light and began to ask their questions while they too were in the dark. They traveled a long, difficult distance to seek this light. Who knows the hardships of their journey or the questions and discussions they must have entertained while they traveled but yet...they kept coming. They kept traveling forward toward the pure, all-knowing, all-loving, non-condemning light.
9 ... they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
God never promised us a care-free easy journey. He's never said life would be easy. Let's face it: life is hard, holidays are billed as 'Hallmark' moments but few live up to the hype and hope of that illusion. For our families are filled with Nicodemus', me, you - lost, searching, broken people, living in the dark when the Light has arrived. I've learned that we cannot truly understand light until we have experienced great darkness.
We started this study coming to Jesus at night in the dark and we end with following the Light to Jesus.
A year has passed since our Mama died. I guess some would say we lost her and that's partially true. BUT we lost her to the Light. As I think back to the day of her death I realize that even as we said goodbye to her the Light began to shine in the crack of my heart. And today, I will keep traveling toward this great Light. O Holy Light, captivate my heart this Christmas.