When the New Year rolls around it can often feel like more of the same. In fact the New Year can mostly feel like cleaning up from the previous year. Get the Christmas Tree to the curb, get ready for tax season, get the kids back to school, get the holiday pounds off the belly, etc. etc. etc.
But we have a great opportunity at the start of the New Year to reflect on where we are in the journey of life and to remember what is most important to us. On Sunday morning at First Pres we studied the beginning of John’s Gospel as he reflects and comments on what really happened in the event of Christmas and the difference it makes for us. If you missed the message on Sunday, you can listen to it here.
John has a perspective that the earlier gospel authors did not. The earlier gospel writers knew that Jesus had been executed and raised from the dead. They had a sense of the hostility of the world toward the True Light of God in Jesus Christ. But John has lived long enough to see the persecution of the church in the First Century. By the time John writes, Christians have been pursued by Jews for decades, like Saul in the New Testament, and executed by the Romans for refusing to worship Cesar. John himself was sent into exile by the Romans on an island called Patmos.
John has years of watching the dark forces of the world react with hostility and disbelief to the message of Jesus. But, he also knows now, that nothing the world does can extinguish the light.
Did killing Jesus put an end to the light? No, Jesus rose from the dead. Did persecuting the church and executing Jesus’ followers put an end to the light? No, the church continued to grow. In fact, the very seat of Roman power, the city of Rome, 2,000 years later, that very capital that sought to destroy the light would have more images of Jesus and of the cross than any city in the world.
John is able to see that there is still all this darkness in the world. Death and persecution and ignorance- that is what darkness symbolizes, but the light that came into the world remains and, as John writes in verse 9 of chapter 1, this true light continues to give light to everyone. In this sense, what happened at Christmas was like an invasion. An invasion of light into the realm of darkness. The light that we all need, came into the darkness of this world. And the world responded with hostility and ignorance, and yet, the light continues to shine.
As you enter 2020 I pray that you will sense the light of Jesus shining in your life and that you will live with the confidence that nothing in this world can extinguish that light nor separate us from the love of God for you in Christ Jesus.