“The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.” John 1:5
Do any of you still have your Christmas lights and decorations up? I know, it’s always an interesting question. Some folks take them down fairly quickly. Others leave them up until after the new year. Some actually do the “12 days of Christmas”, taking their decorations down on January 6, Epiphany. In Japan, we always had to take our decorations down by the Sunday after Christmas, because it was important to get the New Year decorations up.
I always feel a bit sad when the lights come down. I love the Christmas lights and decorations in the early morning and night hours. Somehow, it feels so plain and dull after we return to more “normal” lighting.
During Advent one of the themes we looked at was “light and darkness”. That theme shows up in today’s text as well. And I’m reminded that the true Christmas light, and the shining of that light, is not just a seasonal thing, like our decorations, but a way of life… a way of living.
Our text in John chapter 1 today is a much loved and familiar text. Hundreds of sermons and themes have flowed from these beautiful words of the apostle John, often referred to as the “prologue” to the gospel. Verse 14 sums up the whole Christmas story – that God became human, choosing to live among us. Immanuel – God with us – incarnation!
But today… I just want to focus on two portions:
Verse 5 “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not overcome it.”
Light is stronger than darkness. Just like love is stronger than hate, and life is stronger than death. Yet, we often don’t feel that way do we?
We often feel like the world is filled with darkness or at the very least, that we are walking in partial darkness, unable to see; that our own light is so small that it doesn’t make much of a difference. But John tells us that this true light is Christ. And that Christ could not be conquered by darkness. This word brings much hope!
Verse 6-8 “There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all people might believe. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.”
These verses are describing John the Baptist but may just as well be describing our role. We are to be witnesses to the light. We sing the song “This Little Light of Mine” – and it’s a great song. But we must remember that we ourselves are not the light. The light we have is NOT our own, just a reflection of Jesus Christ. We point to the light. We trust that our lives become a reflection of the true light so that others will know about Jesus and God.
So here we are:
- Light is more powerful than darkness
- We, like John, are to be witnesses to that light
If that’s our role how can we prepare as we enter this new year?
According to our text… the true light has arrived. It is here. We don’t need to look for it. We simply need to open up the shutters and doors of our lives and allow the light in. To reflect the true light we must first face the true light and welcome the true light into our lives.
Are there any places in your life or heart that are not open to God? That perhaps are still dark? Places that you have not allowed God to enter? Places that you still are hanging on to? Today, first of all let us receive Christ again, the true light. The result of that is clearly state in verse 12:
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.”
And then, is it possible that we would be able to live in the light of Christ, to reflect Christ’s presence and work in our own lives? So many around us have needs. So much darkness. No, of course, we can’t fix all of that…. But the light which we’ve been given could shine and bring life to others. Do we truly believe this?
As you take down the Christmas lights and decorations in your home, remember – we need not stop shining. The true Christmas light, Jesus Christ, is meant to shine all year.
(The above is a summary of the message shared on January 3, 2021 as part of our zoom worship time.)