Light Shines in the Darkness

Life as a church organist is certainly busy at times like this! Two services Christmas Eve (with a choir potluck between services) and then another service Christmas morning.

And as a church organist, serving the parish in which I grew up and where I used to serve at the altar, I also have my eye on some of the other details around the liturgy. And so it was yesterday morning, as I prepared to start playing the prelude, I noticed that the candles weren’t lit and recalled that I had not seen anybody dressed to serve that morning.

So before sitting at the organ, I went into the sacristy and opened a drawer and found the matches. Then went out to get the taper. And I lit the match and used it to light the taper. I left the sacristy and began to light the candles: first the altar candles, then those on either side of the chancel steps, and then the Advent wreath with the white Christ candle in the center.

There was fond recollection of the years in which I would have done the candle lighting nearly every week. But I felt something more there than simple nostalgia.

Later that morning, as I was listening to our interim read the gospel from the third set of Christmas propers, there were a couple of lines that jumped out at me, and focused me on some of that depth:

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The previous night, we’d gathered in the darkness of a long winter night, and lit all five candles at the wreath for the first time this year. One of the reasons I love evening services (be it Christmas Eve or the Easter Vigil) is that the darkness hides distractions, and the light is striking in the simple way it overcomes the darkness and focuses my attention.

The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.

The start of John’s gospel is an amazing piece of writing. It speaks at so many levels and collapses so much meaning into a very few words. This is one passage that says so much that I don’t think I could ever run out of new things to hear from it.

But amidst the busyness of Christmas, sometimes we need that simple reminder of God with us.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.

Thanks be to God, and may you and all those you love be touched by God’s grace and blessings in this special time of year.

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