In the Northern Hemisphere the days are getting shorter.
Each day the sun comes up later, and sets earlier. I am still driving to work in daylight, but I go home in the dark. The Christmas lights on the houses as I drive home- some garish, some sweet- cheer me as I join the traffic heading across town. I don't know what it is like to spend Advent in the Southern Hemisphere with the days getting longer as Christmas approaches. Maybe some day I will find out visiting one of our companion synods. Until then, I experience Advent as a time of increasing darkness. At least physically.
But there's this light that shines in the darkness, and no matter what, the darkness does not overcome it. It is the light of Christ, coming into the world, shining in spite of the darkness, refusing to give in to despair, to grief, to pain. Advent's darkness reminds us of our need for life-giving light. Without light we cannot survive. A catastrophic event, whether natural or human caused, could block our sunlight and cause life on earth as we know it to cease. That is darkness unto death.
As December plunges us into darkness, we seek God's presence with an intensity that we do not necessarily experience in the summer months. And we wait for God's coming to be among us. We never really know what that will be like, do we? Did the occupied Jews of first century
Palestine expect that God would come as a nearly homeless infant, and die as a condemned
criminal? Do we recognize Jesus in the stranger, the refugee, the prisoner, the homeless person?
Advent challenges us to seek God, to see the light in the darkness. The people who have walked in darkness shall see a great light. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness shall not overcome it.
Thanks be to God.
Jessica Crist, Bishop
Bishop Jessica Crist
Bishop of the Montana Synod of the ELCA