As I lounged in my chair last night, enjoying a soft summer breeze , I was serenaded by a symphony of cicadas and crickets, reminding me of the Creator's unceasing activity. It was indeed a song in the night. I then looked up into the night sky. His glittering stars and glowing moon seemed to say to a hushed earth below, "I've left the light on for you. It's time to come home."
Sometimes we forget this simple fact: the world still turns throughout the night hours. In fact, it has to. Were life to stop when things went dark or the earth ceased making its orbit around the sun . . .
Well, we'd never see the sun! The morning would never come. The light would never dawn.
But the world does keep turning. The globe always makes its annual trip around the sun. Night does in fact turn to day. Darkness is penetrated with light. Nocturnal creatures like my beloved cicadas, or the cute little kiwis that scurry along the New Zealand forest floor all remind us that life goes on . . . even in the dark.
God goes on. . . even in the dark.
Songs can be sung. . .even in the dark.
Do you believe this? This is the essence of faith, the message of Christmas: That God, though invisible to the naked eye, can be visible through the eyes of faith. That God, who dwells in approachable light, has made himself approachable through His Son Jesus Christ. That God, while we are asleep and unaware, is slowly turning the dark to the light, pulling us from the shadows to reveal the brightness of His love.
Isaiah 9:2 (NLT)
2 The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.
I find it quite interesting that the Christmas accounts in the Bible are full of "shady" characters. They are shady not necessarily because of their behaviour, though scripture is replete with stories of God using personalities who are less than desirable, turning ragamuffins into princes and tax-collectors into philanthropists. They are "shady" because they are night dwellers, operating under the cover of darkness.
The shepherds, to whom the angels first announced Christ's birth, were watching their flocks at night, faithfully guarding the sheep when everyone else was asleep. Perhaps some of them were even raising lambs that would be used for Passover sacrifices that year. Ironic , don't you think, that God, the Good Shepherd and Lamb of God, made himself known to lowly shepherds out doing the dirty jobs of the night?
And of course we cannot forget the wise men. They were astrologers, men of the night who studied the stars. It's
awfully hard to examine celestial beings at the height of midday. The most opportune time
is most obviously as night when the rest of the world is dreaming away, anticipating the light of day.
These unexpected bands of the non-religious were the very recipients of
the miraculous signs that heralded the Saviour's birth. Perhaps because
they were indeed people caught in darkness, they represent all who are
hidden beneath the inky blackness of sin.
Jesus even told the Apostle Paul that he had a part to play in all of this.
Acts 26:17-18 (NLT)
17 And I will rescue you from both your own people and the Gentiles. Yes, I am sending you to the Gentiles 18 to open their eyes, so they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God.
God is always in the business of turning darkness to light. That is why we celebrate Christmas. Not for its trappings or festivities. Not for the movies, trinkets and treats. Not for the sales and deals on meaningless goods no one needs anyways. Not even for the feeling of "goodwill" that many seem to sense during this blessed season. Without Christ transforming life and bringing hope and light, there is no Christmas.
This Christ whose birth we celebrate, is the same Messiah who went on to live a perfect life with no sin, and was killed on a cross to pay for all of our wrongs which had separated us from God the Father. This same Christ then proved He was God, holding ultimate power and authority over evil by raising from the dead. This same Christ is the One who now gives his Holy Spirit to all who will make room for him in their repentant hearts.
This is the Christ whose light shines in the darkness.
This is the Christ of Christmas.
This is the Christ who gives songs in the night.