I drive to work in the dark many mornings during this time of year, and often return home after the sun has set. Most of the leisure activities I enjoy—walking, running, birding, fishing—are daytime pursuits. I prefer light to dark.
Day by day in December, the time grows closer when the increasing darkness becomes a receding darkness, and the light begins to win against the night. The winter solstice is approaching, the day of the year with the shortest period of daylight and the longest period of darkness. After December 21, each day will grow a little longer as the light reclaims the day. I look forward to the shift.
In an Advent devotion, I heard a pastor say that “light and dark rub against each other during this season.” I like that phrase. Every day in the news—close at home, across the country, and around the world—we see images of light and dark rubbing against each other.
As John writes his story of Christmas, he refers to Christ as light. In Christ, “the true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.” He makes the bold statement that “the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” Our lighting of an additional candle each week in the Advent wreath bears witness to the coming of light to push away darkness.
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.” Those words by Albert Camus attest to a nascent longing for the light, even among those who do not view the world through the lens of faith. We, as disciples of Christ, have a name for the light. In Christ is the life, the hope, the love, the peace, the justice, the grace that pushes against every form of darkness.
During this season of the year, I’m full of appreciation for the pastors, the congregations, the ministries, the people who belong to our communities of faith, and the people we seek to serve around us. I know that ministry is not easy, and I do not take the good efforts and hard work of our people for granted. Each day throughout the year, disciples formed through the ministries of our faith communities arise to push away a little more of the darkness and to celebrate the everlasting promises of light.
I pray God’s blessings upon us as we celebrate the birth of Christ, the advent of the light. I count it a privilege to serve as your bishop, and I give God thanks and praise for all you do for the purposes of Christ. May you and yours enjoy a blessed Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Grace and peace,