Simple science tells us that, because of the tilt of planet Earth on its axis, in the Northern Hemisphere between the months of June and December, the amount of sunlight we get grows shorter each day. We all think we know this. Many of us may even understand it. I know in my own experience, moving to Alaska has made this drastically more apparent. But what does this mean in our lives of faith?
Even the darkness will not be dark to you;
the night will shine like the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
Psalm 139: 11 & 12 (NIV)
We all face darkness of one kind or another. Whether it be something as big as the physical darkness of the winter season, the unpredictable nature of today’s political circles, or the climate crisis; or something as intimate as a rocky relationship, depression, or uncertainty about one’s future – I bet we can all think of some time in recent memory when things just felt DARK. If you’re anything like me, when those DARK times come, I just want to do like the brown bear and hole up in a cave for the duration. But, like the promise of the angels on Christmas night. God says to us, “Do not be afraid” (Luke 2:10).
Yet so many of us are afraid of the DARK. Maybe not so much in the monsters in the closet way we were when we were four, but in other ways. Maybe your job just isn’t what you thought it would be. Maybe you don’t know how you are going to be able to keep food on the table and the heat on this winter, or maybe you feel lost and alone.
*Take a minute to identify & (quietly or aloud) name the darkness you are feeling this season*
In this Advent season, as we are waiting for the light, both the light of the Sun and the light of The Son (Jesus Christ), let us be mindful that God never leaves us alone in the darkness. God is present with us, not despite the dark, but in the dark, for “the people who walked in darkness, have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them a light has shone” (Isaiah 2:9). Though it may not be historically factual, it fits well for those of us north of the equator that we celebrate Jesus’ birth in the dead of winter. Let Christmas be a reminder that, even when there is very little light in the sky, Jesus is always the light in our lives. May we focus on that as we wait for the return of the light. The Light always returns. In fact if we are paying attention, we may notice that it never really truly goes away.
The son of two ELCA pastors, John Christensen grew up going to Flathead Lutheran Bible Camp (FLBC), almost every summer of his childhood. He went on to Counselor-in-Training while attending highschool in Great Falls & then Butte, Montana, eventually spending the summer of 2014 as a counselor at FLBC. He graduated from Linfield College, in McMinnville, Oregon, with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology. John currently lives in Anchorage, Alaska, where he is deeply involved in the life of his congregation & a member of the Alaska Synod Council.