The light that outshines the darkness
Special to The Republic
For many people, regardless of their faith community, or even if they have none, the end of the Christmas season may come as a relief. As when a cloud blocks the light of the sun, so the shadows of human struggles, fears and disappointments, may try to obscure the light of universal love that this holiday represents for so many people.
And that is exactly the story the Bible tells of the period following the birth of Jesus.
In the Bible narrative, the joy and light of the virgin birth of Jesus Christ — heralded by a shining star, the song of angels, and the reverence of the lowly and great — was soon threatened by darkness. The Bible reports this kind of reaction to new revelations of God and His goodness throughout the Old and New Testaments.
The Apostle John wrote of it this way: “The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” John 1:5 .
Following the nativity of Jesus, that darkness took shape in murderous intent. As the Bible tells it, Herod, the Roman- backed king of Judaea, sought to kill the child.
King Herod completely misunderstood the kingship and identity of the Christchild. He feared the little boy was coming to take his throne. Herod’s interests lay entirely on the side of materialism, in the networks of power and commerce that ruled his age. What were spiritual light and spiritual authority to him?
The life and teachings of Jesus Christ — the light he brought to earth — were certainly revolutionary, but not at all in the way the Herods of the world expected. Jesus’ mission upended entrenched patterns of sin and suffering wrongly attributed to God’s law and set in motion sometimes by the worst passions of humans. The power Jesus commanded wasn’t political or material but divine — the power of spiritual Truth and Love always at hand to heal and bless, redeem and save.
During his brief three-year ministry, Jesus demonstrated the true and loving nature of the Almighty so brilliantly that a profound new sense of the innate spiritual worth of every man, woman, and child — made in God’s image — dawned. At the spiritual core of everything, was this great Truth of being, the Light that still reminds us today that we are all the beloved children of God.
In a Christmas article in 1886, Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of my church, the Church of Christ, Scientist, wrote, “We are hungry for Love, for the white-winged charity that heals and saves; we are tired of theoretic husks…” That hunger for goodness that we all share comes directly from God, whether we realize it or not.
Yes, the Herod darkness still clamors for attention in society today. It shouts that violence and war, political and racial strife, fear of global pandemics, economic troubles and the havoc of climate change are what define us and our fellows. But despite these shadows, Christ Jesus showed us what we are truly like — that our true character isn’t in sinful flesh, but in the holiness of Spirit, everyone made “in the image and likeness” of God, as Genesis affirms. This Christ-light shines with power today, despite the worldly shadows. It is the presence and power of “Emmanuel … or God with us” Matt. 1:23 , ever at hand to outshine the darkness.
But despite these shadows, Christ Jesus showed us what we are truly like — that our true character isn’t in sinful flesh, but in the holiness of Spirit, everyone made “in the image and likeness” of God, as Genesis affirms.