Nearly a decade ago my family had the privilege of exploring the West. One of our stops was the Carlsbad Caverns. Our group met in the bookstore at the visitor center and from there the ranger herded us to the elevator where we plunged down seven stories to the heart of the caverns.
Together we hiked into one of the deep rooms called the King’s Chamber. And there, with plenty of warning, the ranger turned off the lights. I would say it was the darkest place on the face of the earth, except we were well beneath the face of the earth. By the time people turned off their cell phones and hid the glow of the watch faces, it was so completely dark you literally could not see your own hand in front of your face. Sight was impossible.
After a few moments of standing silently in this disorienting, consuming dark, the ranger clicked on his flashlight. That single beam of light shone like a thousand suns.
One single light in a vast cavern of dark--
John says that Jesus is a light in darkness. At first glance, one little baby seems to be too tiny a spark: one baby, one star, one manger. In a world of super stores where bigger is better, where the largest and the loudest hog the spotlight, this holy birth seems too small to do much good.
And yet . . . This is the way God chose to enter in. One baby born to an unwed girl, one night, one life well-lived, one cross, one empty tomb. A small light, perhaps, but an eternal spark that shines in darkness. And darkness, says John, shall not overcome it.
Because of God’s grace, the light of Christ shines in us. This is part of what it means to be created in God’s image. Others see the light best, perhaps, when the night is at its darkest, perhaps at the bottom of some emotional cavern, in some shadowy valley of death. What they see when they see God’s light in us is not something we can, in our wildest dreams, take credit for. This light is not born from the flesh, nor is it the result of our hard work and good, faithful intentions. What they see is the light that the world first saw long ago on a dark night in a manger.
One tiny baby in a small-town stable. One tiny flicker that still sets our hearts ablaze.
I was born and raised in the sight of water in Hampton, Virginia. I was baptized and nurtured in the Presbyterian church. There was never a time when weekly worship attendance, the giving of ...